In Tami Hoag’s book, Deeper Than Dead, she describes the father of one of the protagonists: “The other person’s role in a conversation with Dick Navarre was to kill time while he was deciding what to say next.” In other words, Navarre’s listening skills were around negative-twenty on a 10-point scale.
A person who truly listens and genuinely hears is like finding a diamond in a conversational wasteland. Books, essays, magazine articles, and websites galore address the listening task. Temple University even offer a bona fide college course on the subject. It appears to be an issue that begs for attention across the board.
The management website, RightPath Resources, includes an essay, “Why Is Listening So Difficult?” Arizona State University has an online video, “What Makes Listening Hard?” Amazon.com offers a book, “The Lost Art of Listening,” and a host of others. Put simply, active, intentional listening is problematic in general.
Since most people have things they wish to say, intently focusing on another’s words often takes a backseat while one’s own thoughts are being coalesced. For listening to be authentic and effective, it must be conscious, deliberate, and determined. One has to want to listen and practice it earnestly.
A key factor is valuing the other and what she/he has to say. Respect and authentic concern are foundational building blocks for truly listening to another. It means acknowledging that what the other has to say is as important as one’s own thoughts . . . certainly their right to speak and be heard.
Almost everyone knows the old “do unto others as . . .” dictum. It applies to the art of listening as well. Do I appreciate it when others really listen to me? Then I need to constantly work at really listening to others.