If you thought about it, you’d probably agree that most people are not great listeners. Think about the times when you have clearly noticed people not paying attention when you speak. I admit that I am not the best listener but I have worked hard to become better at it over the years. It’s not easy. In fact, it has been one of my New Year’s resolutions (for a number of years in a row) to be become better at listening. I assume lazy listening is very common because it just takes less energy… our minds are racing away and we’re often generally distracted.
But, what we may not realize is that listening is a sign of respect to another person and is such an important thing to do. And it’s pretty simple. When you’re listening to somebody, you’re actually conveying that you feel what that person is saying is important and valuable. The problem is that when you’re not listening, you’re conveying the opposite – that what the person is saying is not all that important. And that’s why not listening is so rude.
People notice this and it’s then only logical to assume that people prefer to talk to those who are good listeners. So, it only makes sense that being a good listener is valuable for your relationships, personal and professional.
Why care about this:
✔ Whether you realize it or not, bad listening is offensive to many
✔ When you listen, you engage more with people and convey a sense of interest (and they like that)
✔ People like talking to good listeners (and not so much to bad listeners)
✔ Listening is a sign of respect and people like to be treated with respect
✔ You can learn a lot from being a better listener
We all have been in a conversation with somebody who is clearly not listening. He/she sits there looking in your general direction as if listening, but clearly this is not happening. As you notice that the person you’re speaking to is not listening properly, a mix of emotions may erupt:
- Feeling offended: You might be wondering how that person could be so rude as to clearly not care what you were saying
- Angry: You might flat out become angry because you wasted your breath making an effort to share something that clearly was not valued by the other person.
- Coldness: You might have a cold feeling toward that person and might not feel like contacting that person again for a while.
The list of reactions might be different or more severe depending on the situation. Not listening to somebody when he or she speaks is only slightly more subtle than literally falling asleep when somebody is speaking to you.
Do you really want to be that person? That creates no advantages for you. You would be MUCH better off just frankly telling somebody that you’re not in the mood to listen for whatever reason (and they shouldn’t waste their time sharing something with you). If you don’t preemptively say that and then hardly listen to what they’re saying, you’re just being rude.
On the other hand, if you’re a good listener, people gravitate towards to you, likely want to share more things with you and, will generally include you more often. Wouldn’t you prefer to have all of this instead of offending somebody and then likely being excluded or written off? The value of listening is so much great than not!
Listening creates advantages in your life and it’s such an easy thing to do. And listening is a huge part of learning. People who listen better are typically more versed and educated (because they probably did the same while in school). So, if you feel you’re not a good listener, just be aware of it and practice more attentively listening. Be aware of how well (or not) that you listen. Be aware of how well people listen to you. Notice how obvious it is when people are not ‘really’ listening and recognize that people notice that about you as well. Perhaps add listening better to your New Year’s Resolutions this year.