Mark Twain once said, “If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.” Like many of us, I remember my mother giving me “that look,” and saying, “Don’t talk Kathleen, listen.” She would follow that chastise with, “It’s not polite to speak when someone else is speaking, don’t interrupt.” This is surely not the rule of the day these days. I believe we have evolved to a disrespectful, rude society where no one even knows the respectful act of listening. Listening is very different from hearing. Hearing is a function of one of your five senses. Hearing is the sounds you hear. Listening skills require a relationship and an act of respect for another human being.
There are a vast number of reasons we have stopped listening to others. We are more distracted than ever before. Technology is a culprit. Many of us are distracted as we have become mesmerized at our smart phones looking for texts, calls or emails. We have lost respect for each other. We aren’t mesmerized by storytelling anymore.
Do you remember sitting at a table after dinner and listening to you elders tell rich stories about their experiences in life?
The fallout from not listening can be catastrophic. What happens to the relationships such as marriage, the family, friendships, the workplace and in the military without listening skills? Since listening skills have eroded it is a necessity for deep listening to be taught in our school curriculum at an early age. Can you imagine each child learning respect, appreciation, kindness and compassion at the early stage of their development? Every person on the planet could use a class in listening skills. If we all knew how to listen deeply I am convinced there would be less divorces, children with a myriad of problems, bullying and disrespect in the workplace and maybe even fewer wars.
Listening skills begin with an attitude of reverent respect for each person
Remember you are not just hearing with your ears, you are opening your heart and mind to the other person. Listening is an act of grace with the possibility of transforming both people. You show respect and presence when you remove all distractions as you listen. Most communication is nonverbal so your body language is the key to listening. Body language in listening means facing the other person, using meaningful gestures and being aware of your facial expressions.
I would love to forward this our Congress who has stopped listening to each other and it’s people long ago. They would probably shed this document, use it as scratch paper or maybe make a paper airplane. Our leaders role is not to extol rudeness, act condescending, irreverent and bully others. Their leadership should set an example of respect, appreciation, kindness and honor for us, our children, our corporations, the government and for the world. They can begin by sitting around a fire singing Kumbaya, making smore’s, laughing, telling stories and listening.
I can dream can’t I?