Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to Listen

I spent every Monday in August taking a class on listening. Listening is one of those things we all think we do well, but nearly nobody does. Because listening isn't an action really. It's the act of doing nothing while someone else is talking. Nothing but listening.

We're all guilty of it - we miss what the speaker is saying because we are thinking of our answer. We are mulling over the times something similar (or admittedly, sometimes not even close) happened to us or to our dog or our great aunt Dorothy. We are plucking good words out of our vocabulary, practicing our tongue clucks and sympathetic uh-huhs. We're moving on to our own problems. We've stopped really hearing about two minutes ago.

One of the fascinating tips from the class was that most people will continue to talk if you don't rush in to offer advice. Many of us don't wait more than a second or two when the other finishes before we extend our wisdom. I've been guilty of jumping in when the speaker takes a breath. Indeed, I've interrupted folks more times than I'd like to admit. The author suggests counting to ten before answering. She says surprising things happen. Like the speaker figures out what to do. Without our input.

Most people aren't really looking for our advice, are they? Most of us will solve our own problems if we're allowed to talk something through. This is the biggest gift you can give someone you're close to. Just listen. Don't talk, don't suggest, and for goodness sake, don't tell that story about that time that Great Aunt Dorothy threatened to drop you at the nudist colony outside of Atlantic City.

Just listen.
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
– Winston Churchill


Linda O. Johnston said...

I've never heard of a class on listening before, Terri, but what a great idea! I'm sure I could benefit from one, too. My mind wanders often, and not always with creative ideas!

Carol S said...

Now that would be an interesting class. I know a lot of people who should sign up for it. Listening is an art. I do not give advice anymore, but I am guilty of the aunt Dorothy oneupmanship.

Terri Thayer said...

Thanks Linda and Carol!

Betty Hechtman said...

I like to listen to people. I'm honestly interested in what they have to say.

Terri said...

Will you be writing any more Quilting mysteries?

Terri Thayer said...

Thanks for asking, Terri! Yes, I just finished writing Monkey Wrench, the fourth Dewey mystery. I am working on the fifth one now. Not sure of the publication date, but Monkey Wrench should be out in the spring.

Watch this space!

Terri said...

Thanks, I can't wait!

Terri said...

Thanks, I can't wait!