“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” - Roy T. Bennett
It might seem elementary to talk about listening, but the truth is that we all need a reminder now and again to brush up on our communication skills. Listening is a key skill we all should aim to master. Listening to others is the ability to receive and interpret verbal messages. It is something we all do every day, right? It seems pretty basic enough. Listening is so important in many different areas of our lives. Employers provide listening skill training for their employees and look to hire those with optimal listening skills. Good listeners can lead to better communication with others, result in better productivity, and increase sharing of information that can lead to better work.
First, it is important to understand that listening is not the same thing as hearing. We hear music, sometimes without having to do the work of understanding any of the meaning in the words. Listeing, however, requires more work than that. It takes more work than to be a passive listener. Listening takes focus and concentration, both mentally and sometimes physically too. People may use their body language and tone of voice to express themselves more fully. It is up to you as the listener to interpret these signs and respond accordingly.
Listening to others can have a positive impact on both parties. The speaker will feel heard and understood. The listener will develop a selflessness that is an important development in life. To put other peoples needs first and listen to the people around us will ultimately make us better people. So next time, listen to others with open ears and an open heart.