Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Put a sock in it

Last night it rained cats and dogs. We had a river raging behind our house for most of the night. It was a glorious thing. I can’t imagine it raining like that for 40 days and nights during the great flood. There was just an amazing amount of water. Being from Arizona, I’ve never seen that much water come from the sky before. I saw a picture once of a lot of water in a lake. But coming from the sky? That’s pretty crazy.

Onto the serious subject of the day: the art of listening. There is a significant difference between hearing what a person says and listening to what they say. Hearing means that the sound vibrations reach your ears and that’s about it. Maybe your brain comprehends what is said, maybe not. Listening requires active participation. It means hearing what is said and responding appropriately. It is very much an art form. It takes practice and work to become a good listener.

There are four keys things to becoming a good listener. The first and most important is closing your mouth. It is incredibly hard to listen to what somebody else is saying when you are doing the talking. There is nothing worse than having someone ask you how your day is going and then proceed to talk and talk and talk without ever giving you the opportunity to answer the original question.

Next, make eye contact. There is no quicker way to indicate that you are not listening and that you are uninterested if your eyes are wandering around the room. When I talk with people, I watch their eyes. As soon as their eyes consistently leave mine, I tend to stop the conversation. I know that if they can’t bother to make eye contact, then there is no possible way that they can be paying attention to what I am saying.

The third key to being a good listener is reaffirming what the person is saying to show that you are listening and understand. While the person is talking, nod your head in agreement, murmur words of agreement and at times restate in similar words what the person has just said to confirm to them that you have heard what they said and understand their intentions.

The final key to being a good listener is responding appropriately. If a person has just shared that their favorite Aunt Jenny has just died, don’t laugh. This sounds obvious, but I can’t tell you how often I see this. Also, be careful when sharing your own story in response. Too often this will minimize what the person has just said. When a person shares about how they got in an accident and how their car was totaled, don’t launch into a story about the time you ran into a tree with your car. If you must, share what you learned from a similar experience but be careful when dispensing advice. The thing that links all of this together comes from Roman 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.”

It has come to my attention that I have not been setting a good example. It seems that I have been doing an awful lot of talking on this blog and not very much listening. I apologize. I will now take some time to listen, please, share what ever you like.

Okay. That's enough of that. Have a great day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear, Literary Vandal
I just read your story IN A MAGAZINE! That's right, somewhere besides this blog. So next time you post something, make sure you don't take a stupid pill before hand plagiarizer.

Forever original,
Rudimental Writer

Some of us read other things besides your blog you know.