Yesterday in my Communications class my teacher said something really interesting. “This is something we barely ever do. Listen.”
It got me thinking. Lots of people pride themselves on being great listeners.But are they really listening? Listening is when you give your brain completely to another person. You are taking in what they are saying, and while you are doing that, you are responding to what you are given. An example:
A Good Listener Friend: “I was on Twitter last night and saw two of my favorite YouTubers tweeting at each other. It was amazing!” You: “Which ones? What were they talking about?”
A Bad Listener Friend: “I was on Twitter last night and saw two of my favorite YouTubers tweeting at each other. It was amazing!” You: “That reminds me of this one time when I saw this one YouTuber talking about another YouTuber…”
Do you see the difference? The good listener processes the information given to them and asks for more, showing that they are taking it in and actually interested. The bad listener only hears the word “YouTuber” and “two” and goes on a whole new story without actually being interested in what they were told.
I don’t know about you, but I am really guilty of being a bad listener. As human beings, our first instinct is to be selfish. So, when someone says something that strikes a cord in our noggin, we immediately feel the need to tell our story and forget all about theirs.
So how do you fix this problem? In Communications, our teacher does these tricks to help us learn to listen. He makes us write down questions we have to ask and then write down answers of the other person, then share them in front of the entire class. I think it’s a really great way to focus on what you are being told. In this last week alone, I’ve actually started taking in what people are telling me and not going off on my own little tangents. It’s made me learn more about people because I am actually taking in what they are saying instead of letting it go in one ear and out the other.
My challenge for you: Spend the next week listening. Actually look someone in the eyes, pay attention to what they are saying, and then ask a question about it. And, if it’s helpful, summarize it. If you friend tells you a story about her trip to the beach, when she’s done, summarize the highlights to make sure you know it and that she knows you were listening. You’ll find that your relationships are going to go farther than you’d ever imagined.