Listening is a skill that most of us learn early in life. We listen to our parents to learn how to speak and learn every day skills. We listen to our teachers to learn more. Some people also listen to clergy to help guide them through this life. Listening can be the most important part of a relationship. The funny thing about listening, though, is that when it is done right, it is done with an open mind and with your mouth shut.
Listening is one of the most important skills a person can have. It can help you know how to approach people with ideas later because you know their concerns. It can help you with relationships whether it is personal or professional. Listening shows interest in the party that is making their desires known.
When you really listen, you take in what the other person is saying. You should never be mentally preparing an argument defending yourself while the other person is speaking. You may even want to take notes or record conversation so that you can go back later and review what was said. If it is an emotional communication, recording may be best so that emotions can calm down. You can listen again later to think about what was said. Then, if a rebuttal is needed, you can give it at a later time. The emotional speaker would be more apt to hear you if you wait to defend yourself when emotions have settled as well.
A really good listener will repeat back to you what they’ve heard in their own words making sure they understand what they hear. If they are unsure, they may ask questions about what they heard to further understand what is being said to them. This is always a good practice because personal beliefs and feelings about a subject can obscure how we hear certain things. They will wait until a point has been finished before asking the questions or repeating what they hear so that they don’t interrupt a speaker’s train of thought. They will not argue the point or frustrate the speaker by inserting their own opinions when it’s not really needed.
Leaning in and listening should never be done in a forty-five minute session or have a time limit. Learning about the concerns of a community takes a lot longer than forty-five minutes. Relationships are not built that way. Relationships require trust and time. When your goal is truly to listen, you need to be deliberate in taking in what the community is saying. Setting aside your personal opinion for a moment to hear what is really being said is important to hearing a community’s concerns. Did the governor really listen? Only time will tell.