Merge's Blog

What does good listening really mean?

Earlier this year, I was at several speaking engagements in Shanghai, China, and over lunch, a participant in one of my programs gave me a rudimentary explanation of Mandarin Chinese.  Apparently, many Mandarin characters (or words) are actually combinations of several characters that also have independent meanings.  An example in English would be the word “stopwatch”.  “Stop” is an independent word, as is “watch”, and when combined, they create a third meaning.  He went on to give me some examples in traditional Mandarin and one in particular caught my attention.  I’ve illustrated it here … it’s the word for “listen”.  It is made up of three radicals (or combinant characters) – ear, sound and heart.

And it struck me in that moment that there was no better definition than the one I was staring at!  Listening truly is using your ears and your heart to make sense of sound.  Worth keeping in mind the next time you find yourself in a conversation (or argument) with a colleague or staff member.

So what do you think?  Did this catch your attention as much as it did mine?

3 thoughts on “What does good listening really mean?

  1. Yes this defination really did catch my attention, and I really loved it. Will definately learn to listen from my heart and not just my ears.

  2. Good to hear from you Ranjit. They say that good listening helps you create meaningful relationships with other people, and I think that’s what I like most about the Mandarin word — it really highlights the importance of heart and feelings over mind and logic.

  3. […] Several years ago, while at several speaking engagements in China, one of my participants showed me how words in Mandarin Chinese are often combinations of several characters that also have independent meanings.  An example in English would be the word “stopwatch”.  “Stop” is an independent word, as is “watch”, and when combined, they create a third meaning.  I was so taken with some of the examples she shared that shortly after, I blogged about the word “listen” which in Mandarin made up of three radicals (or combinant characters) – ear, sound and heart (What does good listening really mean?). […]

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