The Importance of Listening

The Importance of Listening

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A skill, according the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, is a learned power of doing something competently: a developed aptitude or ability. The skill of listening is a skill that I believe everyone should have but most people lack. Many people do not realize that listening is not merely the act of hearing a sound but of paying close attention to what someone is saying and trying to understand the message that they are trying to relate to you. Most times people say they are listening when in all actuality they are merely hearing you but not even attempting to understand what is being spoken of. The advantages of being a good listener are vast. This skill can positively affect many parts of our everyday life and interaction with people. Nevertheless, it is a skilled that is overlooked in today’s unmindful society. The reason I believe that listening is of such importance is because nowadays people have developed the mentality of “every man for himself.” People are not concerned about their fellows anymore. We are only concerned about our own issues and problems. Listening is a skill that is acquired throughout a lifetime. It is an important virtue when it comes to communication.People should be taught from childhood the importance of learning how to listen. If we realized how much we would benefit from being good listeners, I believe that things would change. Lack of listening skills affects marriages, parents and children, teachers and students, employers and employees, foreign affairs, and the list goes on. If a husband and wife learned to sit down and listen attentively to each other they could avoid many misunderstandings that oftentimes lead to disputes, separation and ultimately divorce. Lack of understanding between children and parents is a very frustrating situation. Parents find themselves unable to effectively and efficiently raise their children and provide guidance for them in situations that requires attention. If many teachers would strive at developing good listening skills there would be a decrease in the number of children that fall by the wayside unnoticed and never acquire a proper education. The skill of listening would prove very effective in the workplace because employers would realize what would motivate their employees and their employees would in turn be motivated and cause an increase in production. In foreign affairs listening would decrease the misunderstanding that so often can develop into animosities that can one day escalate to full blown wars.

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Just imagine the possibilities if listening became an attribute that people seek to achieve wholeheartedly. I am not trying to present a utopian world but I am suggesting that if more people placed more emphasis not just on being heard but on really listening as well, many things would change and many conflicts would be avoided. From the beginning of time humanity has had a problem listening. Even going as far back as biblical days, Eve was deceived because she did not listen carefully. The Serpent only changed one word but because she did not listen carefully she did not grasp the vast difference in the information that was conveyed to her from both sides. So, how does one become a good listener? First and foremost, it is important to understand that listening is not just sitting and hearing someone speak. It is also taking careful thought of what they are saying and trying to understand their point of view. It is also essential to let the other party know you are listening to them by responding and asking questions relevant to the topic on hand. Body language plays a big role in effective listening. Among these are eye contact, nodding and leaning toward the speaker. All in all, listening is a learning process that must be built upon daily. It’s benefits would far outweigh the efforts of acquiring this skill. Many relationships would achieve heights that without listening skills would be impossible to reach. People would understand each other on a different level and learn to relate to each other. Listening skills could help individuals better understand where their peers arecoming from and it would make them more compassionate of each other’s needs. “The world would be a better place:” it’s a phrase that we hear often but consider it only for monumental feats. Yet, learning how to listen would be a small step that would bring forth results that could change the world from the smallest of relationships to the largest. A small step for a monumental change compared to a monumental feat for a small change.
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