LISTENING…a lost art?
When I met my husband 22 years ago, we would often take long walks after work and talk about friends, favorites, business deals, actually – just about everything. I remember being so taken with how incredibly good I would feel after those walks. I knew he was not only listening to me, but interested. He was always actively engaged in the conversation.
I realized the other day that all of our latest and greatest technology (phones, computers, iPads, TV.s) is causing quite an interference with what used to be engaging conversation. Not just with my husband, but more seriously with my teenage children. Heads always seem to be buried in texting or tweeting, and good old fashioned “dinner table” talk no longer exists. I work to improve this at home, but have also realized something even more important at school. My son is currently taking a Public Speaking class where he is learning great speaking skills, but there is no time dedicated to teaching LISTENING skills. Teaching good eye contact, how to acknowledge comments with a nod or smile, how to listen to understand not just to reply, how to simply give the speaker the respect they deserve…why are these not stressed as well? After all, when we are speaking we hope for this from our audience.
With all the written communication that occurs (texting, emailing, tweeting, Facebook) it is often difficult to practice the art of listening. If it’s not taught, it may very well be a lost art. Think back to your last conversation…were you a distracted listener or an active one? We all want our voice to be heard, but maybe we should take a step back and give engaged listening more of a turn.
I leave you with a quote by Ernest Hemingway:
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”