When you are misunderstood what do you do? In my earlier blog “what did you say?” I expounded on the merits of being a good communicator. You probably went out and bought a language CD and “googled” a little on the culture of the person you wanted to impress. No? well maybe you did not. If you want to communicate better with others just stop talking. You will amaze yourself at how much you learn.
“Seek first to understand then be understood” habit number five is an excerpt from Steven Covey’s Seven habits of highly successful people. In his book Stephen Covey talks a great deal about being successful. This is a very interesting self-help book and I am not saying that because I will get a compensated for recommending it. Listening is an important factor in language and communication. We spend a lot of time in schools learning how to read and write properly and very little time on learning how to listen. As a child when I came home from elementary school, I expected to get this question from my parents “what did you learn in school today?” The answer(s) I gave would mean the difference between staying up late with the grown ups or going to bed without watching television with a promise of more suppression of my basic human rights; the right to liberty and free speech! Well maybe that was only in my household but I have to blame my parents for something after all everybody does it today.
What is the art of listening? I don’t know if anyone really knows how to explain it. I dare say that it involves the use of your ears and in addition it involves being able to reproduce the information that you heard in an ineligible way. In English there is a difference between hearing and listening as in Spanish and French. In Spanish “escuchar,” in French écouter and “faire attention.” The French have the right idea. The first word (écouter) shows the biological function, the other represents what we need to do “pay attention” to the information presented. If I summed it up “the art of listening” is paying attention to conversation so that you not only understand it but you can communicate the message to others. No misunderstandings can occur once you actually listen because you are sure to get exactly what the person said.