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Are You Listening Or Just Hearing?

Updated on February 15, 2016

Are You Listening Or Just Hearing?

Are You Listening or Just Hearing?

“To listen” a very wise man once said, “Is more blessed than to talk”, and it should be, it’s a lot more difficult. When I was a little boy my mother used to say, “Martin, God gave you two ears and only one mouth” and that was for me to understand that I should listen more and speak less. Now that I am older I realize I was given two ears and one mouth because it’s twice as difficult to listen as it is to speak.

Listening is our most neglected means of communication. Seventy percent of what we hear goes in one ear and out the other. As children we concentrated on reading and writing and not on listening, then as adults we develop the habit of selective hearing, we only listen to what we want. How often in a conversation do we wait anxiously for the other person to take a breath so we can start talking, especially if we disagree with what has been said, and if we agree our mind begins to wander.

Listening that leads to understanding

Research shows that the average person spends 9% of the time writing, 16% reading, 30% talking and 45% listening, unfortunately, we don’t always hear and understand all that was said, we often fail to get the other person’s point of view, we have to listen creatively, uncritically, attentively and with empathy. Good listening then, involves silence. The kind where we refrain from jumping in and presenting our ideas until the speaker has finished his own.

Advantages in business.

There are many on the job pay-offs, one person in sales just couldn’t understand why he had such a low closing rate. His manager sent him for a listening course and thereafter he closed more sales, he had learnt how to stop telling and to start selling.

Listening promotes understanding

Do more than hear, listen. Do more than listen, understand. As you become a more effective listener, the attitude you bring to any conversation is quickly apparent to others. When they sense your interest and a willingness to share their problems and feelings, you will enjoy a commanding position. Think of the last time a customer complained about having a problem about your product or service, did you begin to argue, interrupt and didn’t listen? It was Steven Covey who said “First seek to understand before being understood,” and the best way to do this is to first listen. There’s a story of a departmental store manager who walked on to the showroom floor as he heard a sales clerk saying to a customer “we haven’t had any for some time now.” The manager immediately jumped in saying, “we always get whatever our customers need so what haven’t we had for a while.” And the sales clerk answered “Rain!”

Listening reduces grievances

Many years ago, in a company with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, it was announced that computers were been introduced to improve office administration, many of the typists feared they would be redundant and would lose their jobs. As a matter of fact, some typists started looking around for other work opportunities. Fortunately, management had a tendancy of listening to the staff, they immediately informed their loyal and hardworking staff that they had plans to send the typists for training in computer skills, and so it all worked out well for employer and staff,

Listening garners new ideas

“Why should I tell the boss about my ideas for increasing production”, a foreman once complained “He never listens to anyone anyway.” And yet, the most effective method one can use to tap new ideas is through listening to what your people are suggesting for in-house improvements. Not all suggestions will be practical, but listen anyway, acknowledge the input and encourage them to continue. The better places of employment reward the action they want repeated, and it all comes together when management actually listens.

Here are Ten habits that good listeners use for better understanding, at work, at home and in general

  1. Don’t fake attention, look the speaker in the eye, forget about your mobile phone, even make notes to show you are listening.

  2. Don’t prejudge a speaker because of weak delivery, appearance or mannerisms. Many years ago a hotel owner had a hotel with no elevator, he wanted to build one and he discovered it would cost a great deal. While discussing the mammoth task of installation with the engineer, his janitor listening to the discussion, said. “If it was my place, I would build it outside the hotel and just break through each floor.” Bingo! And so started a whole new way of doing things.

  3. Listen for the feeling or tone of the words and learn to listen between the lines.

  4. Avoid been trapped by emotion-charged words that tune you out with the speaker.

  5. Learn to concentrate on what’s been said and avoid listening only for facts.

  6. Try not to decide, even before the speaker starts, that the subject will be uninteresting. Just give the person a chance. Convince yourself that everyone you meet knows something you don’t know and is worthy of your attention.

  7. Don’t line up counter arguments mentally to counter what is being said while the speaker is still talking. Many of us concentrate so hard on what we plan to say next that we don’t hear what is being said.

  8. Analyse and ask yourself, what is this person trying to say, what can I anticipate next, stay focused.

  9. Mentally summarize what is been said, the basic ideas and core message, even ask questions to clarify your understanding of this conversation.

  10. Strive to became a good listener, you will become more popular and after a while you may know a thing or two. At a function I noticed an example of a good listener, he as sitting next to a lady whom he had never met before, I observed how he asked questions and then listened attentively without interruption, and when dinner was over I heard the lady saying, “You are such a good conversationalist”, and yet he had spoken very little, but he sure listened.

One learns more by listening than by speaking

Enjoy good communication. Think. Listen. Speak



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