I have had to order takeout coffee since. In the six times I’ve done that, only once have I got what I asked for. Crazy right!
The last barista even repeated my order back to me before giving me something different.
What happened to the basic communication skill of listening?
Of all the communication skills I think listening is by far the most important.
Not just for trivial things like getting a coffee right.
Listening is a way of saying you’re important to me.
Have you had someone – a friend, a partner, a family member – ‘listen’ distractedly while you’re telling them something? How did it feel?
Have you done the same to someone else? Where was your priority at the time? I’d hazard a guess that it wasn’t with that person.
Listening is a way of really engaging.
It’s impossible to have a deep, connected relationship (of all kinds) without being able to listen closely to that person. Communicating in an open and vulnerable way requires trust and feeling heard is part of building trust. Would you open yourself to someone who couldn’t remember the very vulnerable thing you told them because they weren’t really paying attention? Or who didn’t notice the quaver in your voice when you told them something that was upsetting?
Listening is not just for words but for the emotion behind them too.
Listening is a (long forgotten) skill.
This is just my opinion so don’t go thinking this is scientific fact. I wonder if our culture has become so focused on individualism and extraversion and ‘me first’ that we have lost the skill of listening. If it’s more important to be noticed and recognised then listening won’t be very helpful. We need to be talking to be noticed.
Listening is a skill. There are some very specific steps on how to become a good listener.
Listening to others is a gift to you.
I have the very definite privilege of listening to people for my job. There are infinite variations to people, so many different experiences and ways of looking at the world. It is a gift to have access to the inner world of people around you.
Imagine that interesting story you would have missed out on had you wanted to talk instead of listen. Or the perspective so different from yours that it gets you thinking about things in a whole new way. Or the different perspective that makes you examine yourself and grow as a person.
This is far from being an exhaustive list of the benefits of listening. There are so many more.
I encourage you to spend some time this week listening and asking questions instead of talking. See what happens.