Before you Speak, Listen
A great man in the name of William Arthur Ward once said: “Before you speak, listen.” Though it may sound simplistic at the start, there haven’t been many times in my life where I have seen so much meaning being put out by such a small amount of words. Making them words to live by, and one of the most excellent life tips I have ever heard. Some may argue that communication via speech is one of the things that separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom; some may even go in great lengths, saying that our language is what makes humanity such a beautiful thing. The sad thing is, we seem to have become biased towards this statement, forgetting that before a speech, comes something even more significant, listening.
Even before mankind developed the ability to speak, they survived by using their listening skills to detect nearby dangers, or also identify a friend from a foe, and so on so forth. Yet, in the middle of the egocentric society we live in, we sometimes forget to listen, we don’t care what other people have to say, only mindlessly saying the things we want to say, even though we may have never put any thought into what we are about to say. Yet, throughout our school years, we are taught how to be adept writers, fluent speakers, excellent readers, but not good listeners.
What Does Being A Good Listener, Mean?
“Listening is such a simple act, it requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise, we just have to be willing to sit there and listen.”- Margaret J. Wheatley. To elaborate on that, listening and hearing are two totally different things, hearing means you just “hear” the sound of the words, while they enter from one ear and exit the other, leaving no actual meaning in words heard left to process.
To listen to means to engage, it means to be there, actively hearing and processing every single word. Paying attention to one’s tone of voice, or body language, and paying attention to only that and not the distractions from the outside world, all while resisting the urge to immediately respond, ruining the speaker’s train of thought. It may sound easy, but it’s something you have to cultivate over time, a skill that must be obtained for mankind to evolve, hopefully into something better.
The Perks of Learning How to Be a Good Listener
- Deepening already existing bonds with your peers. Being on the listening end in a conversation can provide you much more than talking, as you get to understand the other person better, gaining a more in-depth perspective into his/her points of view in the subject of discussion. As an added bonus, you get to strengthen the bond between the other person, as you learn what ticks them off, or what they like/dislike, etc.
- Increasing your popularity among the people you know. Who doesn’t want to have a good listener to talk to when in need? Being able to actively listen when someone is talking will make you someone who is much more appreciated by others, making them enjoy your company even more. Establishing your relationships with friends, family, and loved ones even better than they already are.
- Becoming a better person overall. By listening to others, you develop a skill not many have nowadays, patience. You get to become tolerant towards others, always letting them say what they have to say till the end, only replying when your answer is well thought out, after putting your mind to work. As an added bonus, you may hear some advice/tips or new perspectives on subjects you had issues with or were wondering about, or you may even learn something new that excites you, thus improving your life quality.
- And as editor of the Door Country Advocate, Doug Larson stated: “Wisdom is the result of a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.“
How Does Being a Good Listener Affect Your Everyday Life
- In the workplace – To be a good listener as an employee already gives you an edge, making you more capable than others because you can absorb much more of the information “thrown” at you by your employer or your coworkers. Also, you can comprehend the instructions given to you much easier than others, making the completion of the task at hand easier. As an employer, being able to listen carefully to what your employees have to say, makes you better at being seen as a leadership figure, as your employees will have an easier time respecting you. Following your instructions, also, you have an easier time identifying potential problems in your company, and understanding them better, by analyzing what your employees have to say.
- At school – With the current educational system being as it is in most parts of the world, listening is what you will be doing for 90% of the time you spend in class, so learning how to listen properly is a big bonus. You get to absorb the information handed out to you by your professor, making study sessions and last-minute cramming much more comfortable, as you will have absorbed a more significant portion of that information in class. Also, being a professor means you have to be a great listener as well, as you will be forced to help students that have fallen behind in their studies, or generally just have inquiries about the subject that is being taught in class, so being able to listen to the students is needed to be more effective at helping them achieve their goals.
- In society – As stated above, being a good listener will make the bonds you have created even more profound and make building new ones even more natural, as you will be a person that is appreciated by his community and someone that is adored by his peers. Making you effectively a more ”popular” person.
To conclude, listening is a crucial part of a conversation, and a great skill to obtain as you carve your path as a human being, living in this egocentric and selfish community that we have falsely grown to embrace over the years. By being a good listener, and by actually analyzing the things others say to you, life will slowly get better, and your everyday activities will become more enjoyable. As a bonus, you get to become a better and more popular/likable person, and who doesn’t want that?
So, next time you engage in a conversation with someone, don’t rush to say all the things you have in your mind, hear what the other person has to say first, and listen carefully, because, who knows, next thing you hear, with a little bit of thinking, may change your life for the better.
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