The Importance of Listening

Listening is, by far, one of the most important aspects of communication. So often, you pay attention to your speech, your words, your dialect, but neglect your ability to listen.

Your self-esteem can be greatly enhanced by learning how to be a more effective listener. Effective listening helps create more positive and productive professional and personal relationships. Effective listening allows you to be in control of the information that is disseminated.

When you are an active listener, you are able to more accurately pinpoint potential problems on the horizon and possibly stop them before they fester. Active listening helps you obtain more information, thus helping you make more effective decisions.

Lastly, active listening demands that you become a part of the communication process. If you are listening, truly listening, you are involved in the process of two-way communication.

You listen at a much faster pace than people talk. You speak at a rate of 90 to 200 words per minute, but you listen at a rate of 400 to 600 words per minute and think at a rate of 500 to 1,000 words per minute. The difference in the speed of speech, listening, and thought can be an obstacle to the listening process simply because your mind can begin to wander.

The Benefits of Listening

The benefits of being an active listener are incalculable. They range from increased knowledge to being able to have more compassion. Listening (and yes, deaf people can listen, too) is a hallmark of successful people. It is a skill practiced by so few that to be able to do it well sets you apart from the pack.

Some of the benefits of listening include:

  • You are better able to help others.

  • You have more power and influence in the world.

  • You are able to understand things on a deeper level.

  • You are able to understand more about different cultures.

  • You have the resources to make more informed, rational decisions.

  • You have the tools to avoid conflicts and reduce problems.

  • You are able to participate in life more because you know more.

  • You can become a more effective leader.

  • You will become more popular because people admire good listeners.

  • Your self-esteem in greatly enhanced.

Listening with an Open Mind

Open-minded! What a word. So many people profess to be open-minded, when in actuality, they are only open to things that they already know and like. Things from cultural barriers to ignorance cause people to not listen to ideas, concepts, desires, and frustrations of others.

“We were all given one mouth and two ears. The wisest people use them in that proportion.”

— Anonymous

Open-minded listening is a tall order. It requires that you shed your fears, your inhibitions, your prejudices, your own knowledge, and your judgments. It is not an easy thing to do, but it is a necessary and important thing to do.

If you are an American Caucasian female, you will never know what it is like to be an African-American male in this country. There is no way that you could possibly understand what it is like. You can imagine, you can read, and you can pretend, but you will never know.

The only way that you will ever come close to knowing what it is like to be African-American, Hispanic, Asian, gay, poor, disabled, or anything that you are not is to listen to the people who are. This is your only hope for ever having the tiniest clue as to what happens in the daily lives of people who are different from you. The only way to ever begin to understand what you are not is to listen, really listen to those who are.

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