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Most people do not listen well.
It’s almost a given that because we can hear, we assume that we can listen. As a result, not only do we have workplace conflict and personal relationship problems, but also a great deal of loneliness in our society. Many people give up trying to express themselves because no one will listen. They may not be alone, but they are lonely.
I recently read some interesting stats regarding listening:
Source: International Listening Association
Effective listening is one of the most important remedies for relationship angst and societal stress. Stephen Covey, author of the best seller, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, says that most people listen with the intent to reply rather than the intent to understand. Indeed, his Habit #5 is:
‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’.
Another of my favourite quotes is an old Cuban proverb:
‘Listening looks easy but it’s not simple. Every head is a world’.
It’s a true act of generosity to get out of your world and enter another person’s world. It’s hard work to turn down the internal dialogue and focus your attention on another person, to suspend your assumptions until you can clearly understand what their world is about. Stephen Covey says that the greatest gift you can give someone is the gift of your 100% attention.
Here’s Covey’s tip for you to practise: next time someone disagrees with you about something, restate their point of view in your own words to their satisfaction prior to stating your point of view. You’ll be amazed at the results!