Are You Listening?

Isn’t it interesting that we hear so much about the key role of “listening” in successful marriages, business mergers, negotiations, etc.? And yet, ironically, how many of us have had the opportunity to receive any kind of formal training in the fine art of “listening”?

In high school, we were offered the chance to learn to debate but that focused on speaking to present your position on any given subject. Most schools also offered speech classes which taught us the fine art of verbal delivery.

Throughout its history, Toastmasters has served more than four million people, and today the organization serves more than 250,000 members in 106 countries through its more than 12,500 member clubs. Its purpose: “helping members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills.”

Across this country, there are many Associations for Professional Speakers who boast membership in the tens of thousands of those who have made speaking a career.

However, I have yet to see an “HearMasters” Association, an Association of Professional Listeners, or any organized group which professed to enhance our ability to be better listeners.

This is certainly an area in which most everyone would benefit from being able to master this delicate and much-needed skill. We see examples almost every single day in all walks of life. Here’s a prime example:

Pause – Listen – Understand!

A man walked into a doctor’s office. “What do you have?” the receptionist asked him.

“Shingles,” he replied.

She told him to sit down.

Soon a nurse called him and asked, “What do you have?”

“Shingles,” he replied.

She took his blood pressure, weight, and complete medical history. Then she took him to a room, told him to remove all of his clothes, and left.

After a few minutes the doctor came in and asked, “What do you have?”

“Shingles,” the man told him.

The doctor looked him up and down and asked, “Where? I don’t see them.”

“Out on the truck. Where do you want me to unload them?”

Sometimes, a simple pause, good listening skills, and a few well-thought questions can solve a lot of problems which would otherwise easily escalate to a critical state. Why do you think the Good Lord gave us two ears and just one mouth? Maybe we should be listening twice as much as we’re talking!

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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