The Lost Art of Listening

When it comes to communication, there are two kinds of people – one who loves to talk, and one who loves to listen. And we know which one is more fun to be with.

While effective communication skills begin with listening, it seems that people have lost this fine art of giving attention to someone else.

Not only do you learn (tremendously) through listening, more importantly, you encourage others and boost their self-esteem when you give them your full attention, complete with the head nods and eye contact.

Oh, another thing. Put down your smartphone when listening or talking to someone. If you are not aware of it, that practice is rude.

Other people are so engrossed in being the talker that they fail to realize that they are more discouraging than encouraging.

A word of advice: learn to distinguish between affirmative head nods that show genuine interest and those that indicate your listeners are dozing off out of sheer boredom. Learn to discern when to stop talking and start listening.

If you want to be convinced that listening is a better communication skill than talking, try this experiment: The next time you’re with a group of people, or in a party or gathering, do your best to listen intently. Stroke your chin and say, “I see,” when someone makes a point. Occasionally give your glance when you find someone says something interesting. Be an active listener, but not over-reactive.

If you keep this up, I guarantee, at the end of the party, you will be considered by everyone else as the most thoughtful and vibrant person of the evening. You will also appear to be incredibly wise.

There is this Filipino adage that says people’s skulls are like cans. When a person is too loud and talks too much, it means the can is empty.

In life, no one taught us how to listen. In school, there are courses on how to be an effective speaker, but never on how to be a good listener.

So the next time, try to be the listener first. Show genuine respect and concern for others, not impulsive, superficial flattery.

Listen with your eyes as well as your ears. No one will accuse you of being a boring conversationalist if you listen more.