On my way from work last Friday, the radio played the song I will always love you by Whitney Houston (This is not a post about love, keep reading!). I have heard this song several times before. In fact, this was played at a wedding I recently attended. Come to think of it, for many wedding occasions this song is an obvious choice. I was confused….
that is all I'm taking with me.
So, goodbye. Please, don't cry.
We both know I'm not what you, you need.
And I will always love you.
I will always love you.
If one examines the lyrics, the chorus is all lovy, dovy. However, I wouldn’t consider other parts of the song, appropriate for a wedding. I sure won’t be playing this song at my wedding!
This song is several years old. Yet, in 2008, I finally figured out what the song is really about. How many years did it really take?
Why am I bringing up this song and its lyrics? Well, I believe that song lyrics,(like many things!) we don’t listen to, well enough. To the people around us, to the people that are important to us. I wonder, how much do I listen to what people are saying? How many times have people tried to tell me things and I haven’t listened? Oh, I thought I heard, just like I thought I heard the words to I will always love you. But I wasn’t grasping the entire meaning.
Listening is so basic that we take it for granted. Unfortunately, most of us think of ourselves as better listeners than we really are. So from this experience, I resolved to do my best to not just to hear the words people are saying, but grasp the meaning; grasp the totality. Easier said than done though!
So, are you a good listener?
Do you make regular eye contact with the speaker?
Do you ask questions for clarification?
Do you show concern by acknowledging feelings?
Do you restate or paraphrase some of the speaker’s words to show that you understand?
Do you seek first to understand, then to be understood?
Are you poised and emotionally controlled?
Do you react non-verbally, with a smile, a nod, a frown, or a touch (if appropriate)?
Do you pay close attention and do not let your mind wander?
Do you act responsibly on what you hear?
Do you stick to the subject?
Nothing hurts more than the sense that people close to us, aren’t really listening, to what we have to say. We never outgrow the need to communicate what it feels like to live in our separate, private worlds of experience. I suppose, being listened to, spells the difference between feeling accepted and feeling isolated.
The bitter truth is we can hear something without choosing to listen.
Roadblocks To Listening
It’s the weekend. The sun is beaming, there’s a slight breeze, and as you sip frozen lattes with your husband, talking about your latest accomplishment at work, you are startled; you see your husband’s eyes have suddenly popped out of his head! Of course, you can’t help but turn around to see what’s caught his attention. It’s a perfectly coiffed, shiny French manicured, expensively dressed women teetering by!
When your child returns from school, she is eager to tell about her day. You just got back from a hectic day at office. Before you know it, your daughter starts talking. Yet, all you can think of is how you are going to finish the “homework” you brought from office, before tomorrow morning!
Do I need to present any more examples? I think you get my point. I am sure we are all guilty in more ways than one. The thing is, we don’t intend the hurt the other person, the reaction just happens!
## What am I going to say next?
Before the start of my official lecture schedule in the first semester, the university organized an “Orientation day”. It was held with the intent of introducing the lecturers, as well as, the students to get to know each other. After the initial talk by the dean (to my utter horror!), he asked each of us to stand and say a few words about ourselves. While each person stood up and recited a few things, all I could think was "Oh no, it's going to be my turn to talk soon, and I won't know what to say (I was really shy way back then!)" that I didn’t hear what the other person was saying.
Did you every get caught up in thinking about your next point, that you weren’t listening to the other person?
Lesson Learned: Don't think about what you are going to say next, because while you are thinking, you're not listening!
## "seek first to understand, then to be understood..." ~Stephen CoveyMost of the time, we think that we are hearing what the other person is saying. But most of the time we just hear the things we want to hear. And we take that to be the entire meaning. You heard what you wanted to hear, instead of the message spoken.
Sometimes people are so concerned about making their point and getting what they want, they forget about listing to the other person’s side. Even if you disagree, and want to make a point, you’ll do well to first understand their point of view, then make yours known.
To listen skillfully is difficult. To listen impeccably, with fixed, full attention is a discipline much like mediation! It requires practice, rigor, and resolve. Make a conscience effort to the practice of listening; starting now!
If you want to be understood…. Listen.
"Real communication occurs when we listen with understanding. It means to see the expressed idea and attitude from the other person’s point of view, to sense how it feels to be him, to achieve his frame of reference in regard to the thing he is talking about." ~Carl Rogers
Is listening something you need to give attention to, in your life? Does listening come naturally to you? Do you have any experiences to share? Please leave your comments.
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