Listening > speaking

A lot has been said about the importance of being able to listen to people. This doesn’t mean waiting for your turn to speak — that’s too easy and that just requires hearing.

Hearing is when you perceive sounds and listening is when you are able to discern and react attentively to the information being given to you.

People can notice when you’re listening and automatically sense the importance you’re giving them. We all have distractions, issues, wants and needs. If we can put them aside temporarily to listen (not hear) to a friend, colleague or partner it will mean the world to them.

Dale Carnegie said the only thing a person strives for is the feeling of importance towards other people. We are social beings and as such, we are looking to get noticed, be asked an opinion, get invited, be involved, get helped, be accepted and have fun with. Keep that in mind the next time you’re talking to anybody. Even the person handing you your coffee in the morning — say “good morning”.

Limiting the amount of words you speak is also beneficial since you have a lower probability of saying something stupid or hurtful. Let other people make those mistakes. The best conversationalists are the one who ask the right questions and know how to listen.

Food for thought: Men speak 7,000 words per day and women speak 20,000 words per day. Almost 3x as much! This means that in the US, before the 1970’s when wives stayed at home and husbands went to work, the men would use all of their respective words in the day before they even got home to talk to their wives. Women, on the other hand would not have too many people to speak to during the day. When their husband got home, who do you think they would throw all their 20,000 words at? Sounds dysfunctional, but for whatever reasons, divorce rates were lower back then. Just a thought.