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On Mastering the Listening Skills

What Listening Costs To You?

Of all the communication skills, listening is the most demanding and the least mastered skill.

The ancient philosopher Zeno is quoted as saying, “We have been given two ears and but a single mouth, in order that we may listen more and talk less.”

First of all, we must want to listen. When Johnny hears his mother say, “Take out the trash,” he is suddenly deaf.  He does not want to hear that. But when she just whispers, “Here’s a quarter; go and get yourself an ice cream cone,” he picks up the softest signal loud and clear.

To listen we must pay attention. That implies that it costs something. And it does. In listening we pay out our most personal and intimate treasure, our awareness, our interest, and our effort in order to receive something in return; a meaning, information, understanding, or perhaps comfort or entertainment.

Listening is hard work, which is why we do not give our attention indiscriminately.

And, above all, listening is a gift. It has been described as one of the greatest gifts we can give each other.

Listening requires the use of learned skills. Listening is the communication skill learned first and used most often. Yet, of all the communication skills, it is the least taught and least mastered.

– Eastwood Atwater
More inspirations and reflections

Listening skills - short reflection

Listening skills – short reflection

Photo credit: Bindaas Madhavi / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND


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