Are you really listening? As authors, many of us are introverts, perfectly happy to spend hours alone in silence with only our imaginary friends to talk to. Others of us love to write, but we also love to talk. I love to talk. When I teach, I tell my students please interrupt me at any time. I can talk for hours. In fact, when I talk at home, my dog eventually talks back, telling me that he has heard enough.
But how do we rate as listeners? We are full of words but do we listen and learn from others. Recently on a trip to Ireland, I was listening to our bus driver give a history lesson. I was interested, but his discussion developed a germ of an idea. While I was developing that idea, he continued. When I heard the name Stuart, I asked, “The Mary Queen of Scot’s Stuart.” No, he answered. He had said earlier that it was a different family of Stuarts. I hadn’t been listening. My mind had wandered. In addition to being embarrassment, I totally forgot the idea that had started in my mind. Must not have been that good, right?
Does your mind wander when listening to someone talk? My friends and I have one word for someone who is daydreaming – squirrel. You can capture a dog’s attention with a treat, right? But if a squirrel runs between you and your pet, how much of his attention do you have now?
In addition to all of the above, I also have a bad habit of listening and then thinking of a story/memory to tell when they are finished. Do you do that too? I go from listening to wanting to share part of my life. No, I am not listening. I’m waiting until I can interrupt. I don’t sound very nice, do I? I don’t do it often, but I have to admit I do. Do you? Be honest.
So I have decided to become a better listener. Here are a few thoughts from a company called the “Telephone Doctor.”
- You hear with your ears, but you listen with your intelligence. As a romantic, I have to add, you also listen with your heart.
- To be a better listener, you have to realize when you aren’t listening and may a commitment to do better.
- Give the speaker your undivided attention. Don’t be distracted by dogs, squirrels or even story ideas. Your speaker may have a better one if you just keep listening.
- Don’t interrupt. They have the floor and it won’t be a filibuster. Give a person a few moments.
- Remain objective even if you don’t agree with everything you hear, unless it is very offensive. Then don’t argue; walk away.
- Nod your head; give verbal feedback that you are listening.
- Make eye contact.
- Be a better listener. You don’t know what you will learn.
Remember: The most important gift we can give someone is to listen with our ears, our mind, and our heart.
I’m Patricia Charles, and I would love to hear what you have to say. I promise I won’t interrupt.