Why is it Important to Listen to Others?

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The day after Thanksgiving is “National Listening Day.” Listening may sound like a simple act, but it is often more complex and important than many assume. Simply put, it is not as easy as you think! Listening is not a passive act because it involves avoiding distractions like text messages, phone calls, and social media. Listening also involves concentration, not interrupting the speaker, understanding the essence of the speaker’s comments and responding appropriately. Once again, so many of us are so involved in our lives and distracted by our own thoughts, concerns and outside forces that truly listening to others is not achieved.

How does listening to others affect our world and relationships?

  1. In the business world, many managers don’t ask employees their opinions and don’t react to concerns as often as they should. It is helpful for managers and executives at all levels to walk around the workplace and be visible so they are aware of their employees concerns, feelings and overall moods.
  2. At the same time, our present political system has been changed due to politicians who seemingly did not have a pulse or sense of what their constituents felt or needed. This did not only happen in the present presidential election but during mid-term elections where incumbents were seen as too removed from the needs of their constituents and did not have a pulse on the needs and desires of the voters.
  3. The holiday season is a wonderful time to listen to the concerns and opinions of friends and family members by asking them to reminisce about favorite memories, previous holiday celebrations and remembering those who are no longer with us. Asking seniors their opinions is a wonderful way to learn about the past and to acknowledge older love one’s life experiences.
  4. Listening is important in close relationships. You may have heard a friend say that their significant other doesn’t listen to them and joke about the art of selective listening. Some communication experts believe that men communicate and listen when the discussion has a clear purpose and requires focused feedback. Women, on the other hand, may feel that communication and listening is an important way to know if the other person understands their feelings. Poor communication, often caused by a lack of listening, is one of the causes of problems in many relationships.
  5. Recognize that everyone has talents, experiences and opinions, needs human contact and is benefited by the act of listening.  We should listen to those who may not have the same education, who are experiencing hard times, suffering from a chronic illness, are elderly, or just perceived as different. You may be surprised what you learn and how much is gained through listening and learning about someone else.

This National Listening Day take the time to reach out to another individual and truly listen.