Sunday, October 14, 2007


In our heart of hearts we know that listening is extremely important. The problem is, it is difficult and often when you listen to things you find yourself struggling to understand and then help some poor soul out of some painful situation. It is odd though that we expect others to listen to us and we speak very highly of those who do. So, I’m thinking that listening is a valuable skill and really deserves our full attention. So what are the basic elements of listening, at least according to Beebe, Beebe and Ivy?

These are listed as basic elements of listening:

1) selecting

2) attending

3) understanding

4) remembering

5) responding.

As you look at this list it hits you that this looks a lot like work. It is a lot like work. There are several things you need to be productive at the process of work and listening. Let’s list a few of them. We need to be: rested, physically fit, free of preoccupations, able to focus our attention, clear about what is being said (verbally and nonverbally), able to recall what has already been said, and finally our reaction to what has been said. This is such a tough assignment that we have hired psychiatrists and psychologists to listen to us for years. When we can’t afford them we ask those who love us most, our friends and relatives to listen to us.

Does it pay off? Yes. This is how we build relationships and maintain them. This is how we find people we can live with for our entire lives. This is how we get and hold our jobs and get occasional raises. This is how we are able to raise our children and merit their love and support throughout our life times. But, we will have to make adjustments in order to accomplish the task of listening.

We will have to get enough rest. We will be fit and take/make the time select what is being said. Rested enough to focus on what is being said. Ask questions when we aren’t clear about what is being said so that we do understand. Hold the entire discussion in our heads long enough to clearly respond to what is being said.

It is a tough task and deserves our full attention and it is clear that we can’t do it for lots of people. Instead, we will have to narrow our field of contacts or fail at listening. We can’t do everything and this one concept, listening is proof.

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