When I think about listening, it reminds me of a story a mom told me when her son decided to pull the entire roll of toilet paper off the roll and all over the bathroom floor. Her instinct was to start yelling and tell him he should not do such a thing, but instead she took a breath and asked why he did it. She listened to his response, which was that he wanted to feel the ‘cushy softness’ that they talk about in commercials.
So many people have something to say in our world today (of which, I am guilty as well) that the noise can be overwhelming. Learning to stop talking in order to listen is an invaluable asset, even when we feel we have been wronged… not just hearing what someone is saying, but making sense of it and understanding what is being said. In addition, we can benefit to listen to more than just people, pay attention and listen to our culture and our surroundings.
Listening does not signify that you may agree, but it does promote respect and better understanding, and I like to believe in the Golden Rule to do unto others as you would like to have done to you.
While gathering some thoughts on this topic, I found some of the following reasons why you need good listening skills
- Better understand
- Build rapport
- Show support
- Beneficial in team-based environments
- Helps in resolving problems
- Answer questions
- Find underlying meanings in what someone is saying as well as looking for non-verbal cues
I also found an interesting collection of ‘Barriers to Listening’ on About.com of things that may get in the way of listening:
- bias or prejudice
- language differences or accents
- worry, fear or anger
- lack of attention span
If you are finding any of these as barriers for yourself, open yourself up to getting over them.
On an added note, I need to remind myself that if a child speaks to me, making a clear effort to listen to them passes on to the next generation that listening is valuable.