If speaking is silver, then listening is gold. — Turkish Proverb
The year’s end is a natural time for reflection. I enjoy looking back at the past year – appreciating the successes and joys, considering what I’d like to do differently. I make resolutions most years. Sometimes they include typical themes like weight loss, but usually there are a few concrete goals to guide me through the year. A few years ago, I began recording these in a journal along with a few other notes and inspirations that speak to important and thought-provoking experiences like attending a retreat or processing a heartbreak. Yearly re-reading inspires new reflections and goals.
I chuckled while recently revisiting one of my past resolution themes: Listen. Listen. Listen. Yes, it was there three times. It was almost as though I was shaking myself to get my attention – shouting even. As a mediator, I listen professionally and I realize its importance, but it’s much harder for me to do in daily life. You can probably relate. But listening is a cornerstone for broad, long term goals like having rich and loving personal relationships and a strong and effective professional referral network.
Effective listening – NOT the same as hearing – is a critical life skill that can be learned. To learn it well, you must PRACTICE. Perhaps improving your listening should be one of your new year’s resolutions. It’s a great pick because it improves all aspects of your life, while also benefiting those around you. Madelyn Burley-Allen, author of Listening: The Forgotten Skill, writes that when we listen deeply, we:
- acknowledge the speaker
- increase the speaker’s self-esteem and confidence
- tell the speaker, “You are important” and “I am not judging you”
- gain the speaker’s cooperation
- reduce stress and tension
- build teamwork
- gain trust
- elicit openness
- gain a sharing of ideas and thoughts
- obtain more valid information about the speaker and the subject
Listening is at the heart of a healthy approach to minimizing conflicts and resolving them productively. We aren’t currently offering workshops. Contact me about coaching if you’d like to work on your listening skills one-on-one.