“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”

– Ernest Hemingway (1899 -1961) Novelist and Nobel Prize Winner

How often do you feel that those you are speaking to are actually listening to what you have to say?

Conversely, how often do you catch yourself needing to refocus because you stopped listening to another?

How often do you feel an impatience to get your point out before another has finished speaking?

How often do you and those you are speaking with interrupt?

All of these questions can be answered simply: all the time.

We can easily recall moments like these because they happen to us every day.

Few of us are willing to let others finish their thoughts before we start developing our own – shortly after that we begin to lose patience. “Why won’t this person finish already, so that I can share my thought?”

Again, this is our ego getting in the way.

Instead of listening to the rest of another’s thought, our ego has a tendency to want to jump in so that we can be put back in the spotlight. It keeps us from truly hearing what others have to say because we are no longer the center of attention at that moment. We want to feel like we have something to add to the conversation.

The Importance of Listening

An article in Forbes expresses the importance of listening and exactly what it can do for you.

According to the article, those “who listen are able to create trustworthy relationships that are transparent and breed loyalty.”

Listening helps instill trust in employees and coworkers, allowing you to be a better leader as well as a better person. People want to share and do for those who are willing to listen to their problems.

And business isn’t the only place that listening helps! It can help you at home with your children, your spouse, your friends, and many other facets of your life.

However, listening does require work. Forbes states that “Listening goes well beyond being quiet and giving someone your full attention. It requires you to be aware of body language, facial expressions, mood, and natural behavioral tendencies.”

Listening takes a lot of energy as you want to make sure that you aren’t just lending an ear but your own insights as well. The person must know that you aren’t just giving them your full attention but that you are also fully engaged in what they are saying.

In the article Forbes lists ways that you can be a good listener:

1. Show that you care.

2. Engage yourself.

3. Be empathetic (not sympathetic).

4. Don’t judge others.

5. Be expansively mindful.

6. Don’t interrupt.

Some of these are very difficult to incorporate and something that everyone needs to work at.

Try incorporating these things into the conversations you have with coworkers, bosses, friends, and strangers throughout this next week. You might be surprised what you find out about someone!

There’s so much more to learn!