Listening is an important skill that we use daily. You might not give it much thought but it does have a huge impact on your academics, job success and even personal relationships and happiness. Even though it might seem to you that it is a passive behavior as it involves silence, but it is not true.
Sometimes when you’re distressed because of a problem be it work related or a personal issue you just dial your best friend without giving it much thought, have you ever thought why? Most of the times we just want someone to listen to our side of the story patiently without being judgmental. We are not looking a solution for our problems but sometimes it just feels good to vent out that stuff. Everybody has a person to whom they can confide in about anything, for most people it’s their best friend, it’s because they feel understood and not judged.
Good listening is an important skill required in many professions these days. It is one of the main skills required by the people working as counselors and therapists. Because the person feels heard by the counselor, they find it easier to confide into them.
In some cultures, it is taught to emphasize on listening by being a silent communicator when receiving messages from elders or seniors. Buddhism, for instance, has a concept of mindfulness which means devoting your complete attention to the task you’re doing at the moment. It helps in developing longer attention span and good listening skill.
Listening requires a person to be attentive and therefore it is an active skill. Hearing and listening are not the same. Hearing is only a part of listening. When a person actually listens, he/she pays attention to what is being said and if required respond to it. Being a good listener means you listen to others without getting distracted and with their full attention and have the capacity to analyze and then respond.
Now there are many people out there who listen just to respond without understanding completely the context of what is being said. We must be a patient listener and not be in a hurry to respond. We should refrain from forming an early judgement, prejudices and be open to all ideas.
When in doubt about the meaning of what is being said we should paraphrase it and check with the speaker whether or not they have been clearly understood by you. In the long run, developing active listening skills is sure to help you in various areas of your life.