In the past, I’ve talked about how the the disparity between how fast we can talk and how fast the human brain can process information is a major contributor to poor listening (see Good listening: it’s about staying “checked-in”). And if that wasn’t bad enough, there are all kinds of mental and physical barriers that get in the way of good listening as well. So what’s a person to do, you might ask? With the odds stacked against us, it is really possible to be a good listener? The unequivocal answer is yes!
But listening, like any other skill, is one that gets better with use and practice. If you play a sport of any kind, then you know exactly what I mean. Let’s just say that your sport of choice is golf. If you think back to the very first time you picked up a club and went out on the course, the chances are good that you didn’t play like a pro. In fact, you probably weren’t very good at all. But with practice, you got better! And that’s exactly how it is with listening. The more you make an effort at it, the more you focus on improving your skill, the better you will get at it.
Because I know that I am not naturally a good listener (I prefer to speak, after all :)), I call myself a work-in-progress. All that means is that even though I am not a perfect listener today, I am better at it now than I was a year ago, and a year ago, I was a better listener than I was two years ago. You get the idea!
So what about you? Are you a good listener? What are you doing to get better everyday?