As you may recall, I’m in the midst of my first semester of doctoral studies.
To say that I’m a bit overwhelmed would be an understatement, but at the same time I’m having fun and learning a lot.
One course is a practical one, and my fellow students and I are discovering the fine art of listening.
Although we’re not being trained to be professional counselors, a certain component of our jobs involves listening to people.
In the past, I’ve been told by more than a few people that I’m a very good listener, and that I give good advice. Well, after the first week of this particular class, I realize that I’m actually a pretty poor listener after all, and that I have a lot to learn about this skill.
To make a long post short, I think we can all do a better job at listening to others. So often, we pretend to listen. You know how it is. We have a thousand things to do, and someone begins to talk. Our mind is not on them and what they are saying. Nope, it’s on the grocery list, the email we were supposed to send, the phone call we just got. We end up responding to the person without really knowing what they’ve said. How is that a sign of being a good friend/co-worker, neighbor, etc.? A better way to handle this is to stop yourself, take a pause, and ask the person to repeat what they said. Then focus, focus, focus.
Other times we listen without patience. We interject our “solutions” before they’ve even had the chance to tell us what the problem really is. Most of the time, we do this because we’re tight for time. A better solution might be to tell the person you don’t have time at the moment, but you’ll be free later, and that you really want to hear what they have to say.
The last way we sometimes fail to listen is by failing to enter into the other person’s world, to only see things the way we want to see them. By failing to really listen, we overlook the other person’s feelings/opinions/desires.
Does any of this sound familiar? Come on folks, we all do this from time to time. Careful listening, however, is something we should all do more of. It lifts the other person up, helps them feel special and cared for, and lastly, it’s how we would want to be treated. I know I do.