We were given two ears but only one mouth.
This is because God knew that listening was twice as hard as talking.
People need to practice and acquire skills to be
good listeners, because a speaker cannot throw you information
in the same manner that a dart player tosses a dart at a passive
dartboard. Information is an intangible substance that must be
sent by the speaker and received by an active listener.
GOOD LISTENERS LISTEN WITH THEIR FACES
The first skill that you can practice to be a good listener is
to act like a good listener. We have spent a lot of our modern
lives working at tuning out all of the information that is thrust
at us. It therefore becomes important to change our physical body
language from that of a deflector to that of a receiver, much
like a satellite dish. Our faces contain most of the receptive
equipment in our bodies, so it is only natural that we should
tilt our faces towards the channel of information.
A second skill is to use the other bodily receptors besides your
ears. You can be a better listener when you look at the other
person. Your eyes pick up the non-verbal signals that all people
send out when they are speaking. By looking at the speaker, your
eyes will also complete the eye contact that speakers are trying
to make. A speaker will work harder at sending out the information
when they see a receptive audience in attendance. Your eyes help
complete the communication circuit that must be established between
speaker and listener.
When you have established eye and face contact with
your speaker, you must then react to the speaker by sending out
non-verbal signals. Your face must move and give the range of
emotions that indicate whether you are following what the speaker
has to say. By moving your face to the information, you can better
concentrate on what the person is saying. Your face must become
an active and contoured catcher of information.
It is extremely difficult to receive information
when your mouth is moving information out at the same time. A
good listener will stop talking and use receptive language instead.
Use the I see . . . un hunh . . . oh really words and phrases
that follow and encourage your speaker's train of thought. This
forces you to react to the ideas presented, rather than the person.
You can then move to asking questions, instead of giving your
opinion on the information being presented. It is a true listening
skill to use your mouth as a moving receptor of information rather
than a broadcaster.
A final skill is to move your mind to concentrate
on what the speaker is saying. You cannot fully hear their point
of view or process information when you argue mentally or judge
what they are saying before they have completed. An open mind
is a mind that is receiving and listening to information.
If you really want to listen, you will act like
a good listener. Good listeners are good catchers because they
give their speakers a target and then move that target to capture
the information that is being sent. When good listeners aren't
understanding their speakers, they will send signals to the speaker
about what they expect next, or how the speaker can change the
speed of information delivery to suit the listener. Above all,
a good listener involves all of their face to be an active moving
THINGS TO REMEMBER
If you are really listening intently, you should feel tired after
your speaker has finished. Effective listening is an active rather
than a passive activity.
When you find yourself drifting away during a listening session,
change your body position and concentrate on using one of the
above skills. Once one of the skills is being used, the other
active skills will come into place as well.
Your body position defines whether you will have the chance of
being a good listener or a good deflector. Good listeners are
like poor boxers: they lead with their faces.
Meaning cannot just be transmitted as a tangible substance by
the speaker. It must also be stimulated or aroused in the receiver.
The receiver must therefore be an active participant for the cycle
of communication to be complete.