Do you listen well? Some people are not good listeners! In fact, the skill of listening is not that easy for many people. Alice Duer Miller once said, “People love to talk but hate to listen. Listening is not merely talking, though even that is beyond most of our powers; it means taking a vigorous, human interest in what is being told us. You can listen like a blank wall or like a splendid auditorium where every sound comes back fuller and richer.”
This is a very valid point. Listening is an art. It is a skill that most of us are not born with. It is a talent that takes time to develop and grow.
Many people have a form of personal behavior that does not listen at all. Instead of listening to what is being said to them they are in a process of thinking what they are going to say themselves before the speaker is even finished. Ernest Heminway said about listening, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”
John Maxwell used a tool by Stephen Ash to check listening skills. Here is a great checklist to determine if you have the skill of listening.
Am I a Good Listener?
Give yourself four points if the answer to the following questions is Always; three points for Usually; two points for Rarely; and one point for Never.
___Do I allow the speaker to finish without interrupting?
___Do I listen “between the lines”; that is, for the subtext?
___When writing a message, do I listen for and write down the key facts and phrases?
___Do I repeat what the person just said to clarify the meaning?
___Do I avoid getting hostile and/or agitated when I disagree with the speaker?
___Do I tune out distractions when listening?
___Do I make an effort to seem interested in what the other person is saying?
26 or higher: You are excellent listener.
22-25: Better than average score.
18-21: Room for improvement.
17 or lower: Get out there right away and practice your listening.1
1 Stephen Ash, “The Career Doctor,” cited in Michigan Department of Social Services, No-Name Newsletter, Fall, 1986.