I have learned the value of listening.
A number of years ago, I was in a gathering of people and recall one particularly frustrating moment. I was trying to express my view about a certain matter to the group and at one point had difficulty completing a sentence without being interrupted by one particular person. I remember backtracking, trying to regroup, after experiencing several interruptions by this person. I recall how frustrating the experience felt. I felt as if the person really was not listening.
I suspect most of us know that feeling. You are trying to get a point across and you don’t think the other person is really listening. You are talking and sense that the other person is more concerned about getting his own view across.
And yes, I have done this as well. I have interrupted my wife and have interrupted my children. At times, I will catch myself doing this and think about how frustrating it must be to be on the other end of this conversation.
I do, however, really want to be a good listener. There is something about really listening to another person that leaves that person feeling heard and valued. There is something about listening that causes a person to feel some kind of connection with the other person. Listening has a way of strengthening and enhancing relationships whether there is agreement between the two people or not.
One of my favorite lines from Stephen Covey’s bestseller Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is "Seek first to understand and then to be understood." There is something very important about genuinely seeking to understand what someone else is saying instead of thinking that the whole objective of a conversation is to get my point across. Listening to another is not a communication technique. Rather, it is a part of valuing another person in a relationship.
Listening really does enhance relationships. When I listen or when I feel as if I have really been heard by someone who is engaged in a conversation with me, it seems to build and strengthen our relationship. This is true whether we actually agree or not.
Do you have a good listener in your life? What are some of the qualities of that person that make him/her a good listener?