I always thought of myself as a good listener. But recently I realized I wasn’t the great listener I thought I was.
In the middle of answering a question in a class, I realized I hadn’t really listened. If I did, I would have asked more questions to understand what the person was getting at. I wasn’t satisfied that I provided the best answer.
So I decided to focus more on listening. Something most of us do every day – and something most of us don’t take courses in, unlike speaking or even writing. Research (my focus group of my kids) seems to say that most of us think we are pretty good listeners.
I was a bit surprised to find out that there is an International Listening Association. Pamela Cooper, vice president of the association, said:
“There’s a misconception that when we hear, we listen, but listening is really hard work, and it takes a great deal of concentration.”
Malcolm Gladwell said that listening well is a gift and that listening is difficult because the more you listen the more unsettling the world becomes.
I would agree. The more I listen, the more I think outside of my comfort zone. The more I focus on listening, the more I realize I have much to learn, and that there is much to learn from everyone’s point of view.
So – here’s to listening and learning.