The importance of listening

Author and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Jose Toledo

the importance of listening

There’s a realization these days that too many of us spend too long staring at our phone screens. One aspect of this is that there’s now a generation of children who are feeling frequently ignored by their parents.

But it’s also something many people from their 30s onwards know as well. Just that back then when they were children, it was a television screen or a newspaper.

Frequently when growing up, there was something we wanted to say to our parents, because it was important to us – and yet the barrier was there. So we kept what we needed to say buried inside.

That is never healthy. We all need to feel heard and understood. 

Anything we love we give time to…

So not being listened to delivers a harsh message, especially to someone who’s growing up and trying to learn how to navigate this vast world they’ve found themselves in. But this can also continue into adult life.

What is the importance of effective listening?

  • Being listened to builds trust. It shows that the listening person actually cares. That means you can be as honest as you need to be and say what you need to say.
  • If someone listens properly to you, it means there’s much less chance of them not understanding what you are saying.
  • When you’re fully listened to it means the listener is building empathy. This is essential when you are looking for solutions (and actually much more helpful than receiving sympathy).
  • Not being listened to properly leads to negative emotions such as anger and resentment. Someone with good listening skills avoids this happening. That makes for positive rather than negative feelings – and that means more effective communication.

It may be that children who were rarely or never listened to grow up to become successful business leaders.

They may make presentations to hundreds of people; they may have under their leadership several thousand people.

Although these people at work might dutifully listen to them, there’s something that is perhaps still missing. Because this is just for business matters, when it comes to their emotions, the leader may still have never truly been listened to by anyone.

So there are still many emotional issues they need to express.

Keeping them inside like this can lead to many reactions and behaviors. Some of these are things that the person will deeply regret.

To move forward, they really need to let these out to understand and effectively address them. The first part of this is that they need to find someone who’s a good listener.

That someone also needs to be a person who has experience in these matters. Being listened to in this way by someone like this can be wholly transformational.

What are the qualities of good listeners?

  • They will always be fully there with you in the room. If there is such as noise from the street or in the building it will not have any impact on their listening skills.
  • They will show this through non-verbal communication that encourages the speaker to carry on. This is such as maintaining eye contact, sitting still, nodding their head, leaning in and not sitting with arms folded across their chest.
  • Good listeners will be open, relaxed and yet completely attentive. They will make the right facial expressions at the right time that show they are fully listening to you. They will offer a “yes”, or a “go on” at just the right time. It’s a definite skill to be attentive but not to be in the speaker’s face.
  • Skilled listeners keep an open mind. Even if they don’t like something you say, they can see it from your point of view without judgement. The skill of having unconditional positive regard like this means you’re much more likely to reach the required resolutions.
  • They will listen to the nuance of your words and can fully realize what you are saying.
  • While they will be completely interested, they will know how not to interrupt. But also know how to ask the right questions at just the right time.
  • The best listeners will be looking as they listen. They will be watching for your facial expressions and body language that all too often can reveal something not said.
  • A good listener will be sincere. You will know that you have the real person there listening to you. That creates trust.
  • They are neither planning what to say next nor assuming they know what you’re going to say next.
  • An effective listener will be accepting of what you say. This means you are then more likely to find self-acceptance.
  • They ask you if you’d welcome advice before giving it. The same goes if they have an experience they’d like to share that might help you. If their request is refused – which is within your rights – a good listener will not appear dismayed in any way.

Ending the conversation

A skilled listener will, at the right moment summarize the most important parts back to you. 

This is not just at the end of the conversation, but also as you go along – and only when you’ve completely finished saying all that you need to say at the time.

Reflecting back what you’ve said in this way will let you know they’re listening intently. It will also reveal anything that needs going over more clearly.

There comes a time though when the conversation needs to end, due to time constraints or when the listener realizes it’s enough for now. A good listener is skilled at this without making it feel awkward.

Then, a good listener will realize when their time listening has reached its final moment. Although this means the conversation and their listening will stop, it’s a skill in itself to know when enough positive progress has been achieved.

They will know you have said enough that now you can go it alone again – with the benefit of all that you have gained from the conversations. With a good listener, you should always feel the experience has been beneficial for the long-term.

Here at Tikvah Lake Recovery, we are very good listeners. For more information about how we can help you or anyone you care about, contact our admissions team today.

About Adam Nesenoff

Adam Nesenoff has been working in recovery for over ten years.

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