Jun
19

Why Listen?

By

You’re at a dinner party. Someone is telling anecdotes; someone is complaining; someone is bragging about his promotion. Everyone there is eager to talk, to tell his or her story. Suddenly you get the feeling that no one is listening. While the talk goes on, you notice that people’s eyes wander. They are perhaps rehearsing their own remarks. It’s as if they have secretly agreed, “I’ll be an audience for you if you’ll be an audience for me.” The party may be a success, but people go home without really hearing or knowing each other.

Listening is an essential skill for making and keeping relationships. If you are a good listener, you’ll notice that others are drawn to you. Friends confide in you and your friendships deepen. Success comes a little easier because you hear and understand people; you know what they want and what hurts or irritates them. You get “lucky” breaks because people appreciate you and want you around.

People who don’t listen are bores. They don’t seem interested in anyone but themselves. They turn off potential friends and lovers by giving the message “What you have to say doesn’t matter much to me.” As a result, they often feel lonely and isolated. The tragedy is that people who don’t listen rarely figure out what’s wrong. They change their perfume or cologne, they get new clothes, they work at being funny, and they talk about “interesting” things. But the underlying problem remains. They aren’t fun to talk to because the other person never feels satisfied that he or she has been heard.

It’s dangerous not to listen! You miss important information and you don’t see problems coming. When you try to understand why people do things, you have to mind-read and guess to fill in the gaps in your listening skills.

Listening is a commitment and a compliment. It’s a commitment to understanding how other people feel, how they see their world. It means putting aside your own prejudices and beliefs, your anxieties and self-interest, so that you can step behind the other person’s eyes. You try to look at things from the other person’s perspective. Listening is a compliment because it says to the other person, “I care about what’s happening to you; your life and your experience are important.” People usually respond to the compliment of listening by liking and appreciating you.

 

 

Categories : Life's Challenges

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