The reason we have two ears and only one mouth, is that we may hear more and speak less (Zeno, Greek Philosopher)
Good old Zeno knew what he was talking about. We talk too much, and we listen too little.
We talk to our kids, and continue talking until it becomes a lecture and they tune us out. We talk to our aging parents in that patronizing tone, because suddenly we’re the “grown-ups” and we see them as children. When we ask someone how their day is going, we interrupt their tale to talk about our daily trials and tribulations.
We think we’re communicating, but sadly, we aren’t. We’re too busy giving our opinion, argument, or wise words, and completely missing the point. The point is to listen and to connect with others.
5 Ways to Be a Better Listener:
- Look at the other person. Focus on him or her completely. Give them the courtesy of not letting yourself get distracted.
- Listening is not the same as waiting to reply! Avoid interrupting the person in the middle of his or her story, just because you think that your story is more important. If all you’re doing in your head is trying to come up with a great response, you just ain’t listening.
- Set aside judgment and keep an open mind. Not always easy, of course. But in order to really communicate with someone, you have to set aside your prejudices and biases.
- You can show your interest in what’s being said through your body language; nod, smile, and ask questions when he or she pauses For instance, when you need clarification of something that was said.
- Give them feedback. Do you know what people love to hear? They love to hear others tell them: “This is what I hear you saying.” This statement lets them know that their words are valued by you.
Empathetic, active listening is so important. It’s great for enhancing friendships, providing great customer service, building family relationships. It enhances our social wellness in so many ways.
Friends are those rare people who ask how we are, and then wait to hear the answer. (Ed Cunningham)
The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard. (William Hazlitt)