After an intensive 2-month study, Professor Paul Rankin of Ohio State University reported that 70% of the waking day involved interpersonal communication.
Of that chunk of time,
- 45% was spent listening
- 30% involved speaking
- 16% was engaged in writing
- 9% was occupied reading.
That was 1939 and those were college students. Has much changed since then?
Despite the explosion of technology and information, human nature and the basic human needs have changed very little, if at all. Communication is still a major part of our life and listening remains the cornerstone.
The often-touted benefits of listening are:
- builds relationships
- reduces mistakes and misunderstandings
- resolves conflicts
- less wasted time
- saves money.
Those are plausible results, but consider these “surprising” benefits.
1. Good listening habits earn respect
A sure way to gain respect is to be a good listener. By listening attentively, genuinely and consistently, you show you value people. In return, they will respect you, pay attention when you have something to say, welcome your ideas and look for your feedback.
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
(Bryant H. McGill)
2. With good listening habits you understand
“Faking attention” as one of the worst and most frequently deployed listening habits. Sometimes it is intentional—we’re simply bored. At other times, our mind ‘plays tricks’.
Researchers say our brains are capable of processing 500 words per minute. We can communicate at 250 words per minute. (The average is between 150-200 words.)
Imagine this scenario.
You are in a conversation with a friend. You’re excited about the topic and talking at full speed—250 wpm (words per minute).
They seem to be listening, but something does’t feel right.
Reality check. Your friend’s mind is racing at somewhere between 400 – 500 wpm. You’re speaking at 250 wpm. What do you suppose their mind is doing with the ‘empty mental space’?
That’s right. It’s wandering into daydreams or wrestling with worries lurking in the shadow of their mental landscape. How much do they actually hear? and understand?
Hearing is easy, listening is hard work. Few people refine their listening skills to not only hear but actually understand what is being said. This select few are successful.
The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.
(Dr. Ralph Nichols)
3. With good listening habits you learn
(a) You learn things about people.
Knowing about human nature and behavior helps you navigate around hidden shoals—weaknesses, character flaws, personality quirks—that can shipwreck friendship. You learn where open channels of communication flow and move relationships forward. You learn where and how to ‘dock’ your ideas—say what you really want to say without being misunderstood.
Armed with this knowledge, you communicate with greater success. You don’t take everything personally. You hear people out. You even learn how to agree to disagree.
A good listener tries to understand what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but because he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with.
(Kenneth A. Wells)
(b) You learn how the people think.
As you listen, you learn how your friend thinks. It’s like discovering their operating system—Windows 10 or MacAir.
Once you know how their mind is programmed, you can ‘synchronize’ your interaction, make necessary adjustments and communicate in a ‘compatible format’. The results are positive and rewarding.
Listening well and answering well is one of the greatest perfections that can be obtained in conversation.
(Francois De La Rochefoucauld)
(c) You gain knowledge you didn’t have before.
Useful bits of information and nuggets of wisdom are gained with keen listening. Sometimes these gems are hidden in people you least expect. Never underestimate anyone. The janitor or the waitress may have a “piece of information” you need.
Every person I work with knows something better than me. My job is to listen long enough to find it and use it.
Without well-honed listening skills, personal achievement and success are confined to the commonplace. Only when good listening becomes a habit will anyone become extraordinary.
Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.
“Listening: Can Ability be Improved”, Journal of Applied Business Research, Vol.6 No.1
“Listening Myths and Misconceptions”, Skills You Need
“Barriers to Effective Listening”, Skills You Need
“Lines of Communication”, Manufacturing Leadership Certificate Program
“Book of Famous Quotes”, < http://www.famous-quotes.com/topic.php?tid=712 >
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