A recent survey found that 96% of people consider themselves to be good listeners. Yet, studies show that even immediately after hearing what someone has to say to us, we retain only around half of the content. We spend about 45% of our communication time listening and 30% talking. It is a crucial aspect of not only our personal relationships but our work life as well; and yet there seems to be a disturbing gap between our perception of how well we are listening and the reality of how well we truly are listening to others. What is getting in the way of being a good listener? Some of the culprits are: being distracted, thinking about what we are going to say, making assumptions, and tuning out when we think we understand what is being said.
It seems to me that we have become quite accustomed to this marginal kind of listening and that the surprising thing is when someone actually listens well. Because when someone really does listen well, it can be a transformative experience for both the speaker and the listener. I love this quote by poet and spiritual advisor Mark Nepo. He writes, “To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”
Let’s pay attention this week to our listening skills. Let’s notice when we are distracted or making assumptions. Let’s quiet our busy thoughts, lean in, and open our hearts to the possibility of transformation!
Have a great week, everyone!