When I was in third grade I had a teacher who left a lasting impression on me. She was kind but firm and always a straight shooter. One of the lessons Mrs. B. taught me was to be a better listener. I was a chatterbox. My mind was always going 100 miles an hour and my mouth followed suit. And when I wasn’t talking, I was sending notes to friends (low tech texting in the day).
Mrs. B. is the one who stressed to me that God had given me two ears and only one mouth meaning that the plan was for me to listen twice as much as I talked. That was hard. She pointed out that I wasn’t really listening if my mind was focused on, not what the other person was saying, but my response.
Every now and then, I find myself revisiting that lesson. If we train ourselves to listen more than we talk, we focus on being interested rather than interesting. Listening helps us to understand others better and to be fully present which helps to build empathy and understanding. Active listening is a skill that can be taught and practiced and is the gateway to great communication. In our Power of One class we teach active listening skills including listening with your eyes – picking up on non-verbal messages. Today’s world is filled with more distractions than ever. Make listening a habit.