Learning to listen

Learning to listen

Posted on 19/03/2013 by Phil Hall


When we speak we use it is not just in words, our body language communicates in far more ways than we realize. It is an extraordinary fact that 78% of all human communication is non-verbal. How we look, dress, our demeanour, eye contact, posture or gestures will often overwhelm the words we use.

“Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.” Emmerson

Just because we are making ourselves heard does not mean that we are communicating, we also have to learn to listen. To listen with our eyes as well as our ears, to pick up on the non-verbal hints and clues and interpret them correctly and also to be aware of what is not being said. Ears are governed by the speed of sound far slower than the speed of light that the eyes grasp.

It is a universal failing that while we are communicating with others we do not listen with attention but are often more concerned with our reply and what we are going to say next. Sadly seldom do we actually consider the other persons point of view or listen objectively or without prejudice. More often than not we too busy trying to make our own point of view.

“There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves.” Albert Guinon

Language is can be imprecise, misleading, tortuously tautological, ambiguous and at times over complicated, to get the best out of communicating with other people we also need to learn to listen, to understand before making ourselves understood.

Man’s inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively.” Carl Rogers

We should probably spend more time learning to listen perhaps by introducing the conch shell, especially in group/board discussions. He/she who holds the conch is not just permitted to talk we are obligated to listen to what they have to say. This requires giving the speaker our full attention you cannot really listen to anyone and be doing something else at the same time, and remember nobody ever listened themselves out of a job.

I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen. Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realise that real communication goes in both directions.” Lie Iococca Former CEO Chrysler Corporation