Occasionally, I get the impression that being a good listener is a skill that is harder and harder to come by. I have my own speculations about the reasoning behind this lack of attentiveness in the context of listening, but I do believe social media and technology have been significant perpetrators. Considering how much time a lot of us spend online, interacting with people strictly in a social manner, it makes sense that our listening skills when it comes to in-person conversations aren’t at the level they should be. Or our communication skills, for that matter.
I think a lot of folks are under the impression they are a good listener, when in reality, they’re anything but. I imagine a lot of us consider ourselves to be strong listeners (even if we aren’t) because we don’t give thought to what comes after the listening component. Say, for example, a friend of yours is telling you that they recently tried out a new flavour of ice cream. Your friend is explaining that this particular flavour really bothered their stomach, and they will never purchase this kind of ice cream again.
If you were truly listening to your friend in this conversation, when their birthday rolls around, you know you’re not going to grab that flavour they told you about to accompany their birthday cake because you don’t want them to have another unfortunate experience.
If you were not truly listening to your friend in this conversation, when their birthday rolls around, you grab the very flavour of ice cream they vowed to never buy again because you know they love ice cream, but you can’t recall which flavours they avoid.
When we listen to someone speaking, it is one thing to truly hear the words coming out of their mouth, versus acknowledging them and chiming into the conversation periodically to give the impression you’re present.
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