Run that by Me Again
by See Change Ambassador, Tim O’Connor
The Wise Old Owl
“There was an old owl who lived in an oak,
The more he heard the less he spoke.
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that bird?”
(Children’s Nursery Rhyme)
The Importance of Listening
I heard an amusing story some time back. It involves two mental health professionals leaving their clinic one Friday evening. One professional seems worn out, with a crumpled suit and he appears quite dejected. The other is bright, happy, smiling and immaculately dressed. His wife is waiting in their sportscar and they are heading off for a golfing weekend.
The first professional asks, “How can you be so happy and relaxed after what we have been listening to all week?”
His colleague answers quickly “Listen? Who listens?”
Listening however is crucial in all walks of life. Listening to a person in crisis or to a person who simply needs to be heard – can be very healing – for both speaker and listener.
We have phrases like “Talking it out” and “A problem shared is a problem halved”. Or more pointedly “We have two ears and one mouth”.
I sometimes think we will be remembered more for the quality of our listening than for anything we have said. Listening closely is becoming less common today.
People want to be heard. Often just talking about an issue with a friend helps the person reach their own solution.
“Active Listening” (below) is used in many professional situations such as training, facilitation or counselling/therapy.
Aspects of Active Listening
Some Active Listening skills involve:
- Concentrating on what is being said
- Asking speaker to elaborate sometimes
- Eye contact
- Showing you are listening (e.g. by nodding, saying “yes” etc.)
- Being aware of body language
- And especially not offering “quick solutions”
Listening in Everyday Life
Have you ever noticed when people say someone “is interesting/funny/a great conversationalist” – what has actually happened is that the person is a really good listener?
I have always been a slightly reserved person. I have turned this trait into the skill of listening. This skill has become a large part of my working life – as facilitator.
We all like to express our opinions – but sometimes – like the wise old owl – it is good too, to listen and to observe all points of view. We have a duty to ourselves to inform ourselves.
Practicing listening can help us to slow down and become more aware of our surroundings. And, while we will always learn something new regarding listening, we will not wait long before experiencing its benefits.
And, usually it is those close to us who will first notice the difference in us. We become more approachable, receptive and maybe even…more tranquil!
If you are having a tough time at the moment and need to reach out for support, please contact any of the following