I prefer listening to talking, reading to socializing, and cozy chats to group settings. I like to think before I speak (softly).
This article has taken a back seat for a while because it sounded more like a rant which didn’t sit right with me. I wanted to write a whole piece about how I was tired of being the listener among my friends and I wanted someone to hear me for a change. The original title was “It sucks being the listener” but I had a change of heart.
When it comes to relating well with people being a good listener is paramount. A while back I asked a few of my friends to use adjectives that described me as part of a self discovery exercise and some that stood out were quiet, reserved, shy and a good listener. It came as no surprise as I have always known that I was a good listener and I only came to see it as a good thing after reading Quiet by Susan Cain.
Prior to the discovery of writing the only means of communication was through talking and that meant that listening was key for communication to be effective. Our listening speed tends to be higher than our speaking speed and that just proves that physiologically we are meant to listen more than speak.
Being a good listener helps you build better and meaningful relationships. The old adage that says that a problem shared is a problem halved makes sense now. When we are heard it kind of eases the burden. If I could take it a bit further, I do not know if it only applies to me but if a friend is sharing something negative it weighs you down and you can literally feel a shift in energy and if you are the one sharing the negative thing you feel a lighter like you have passed on a weight. If no toxic information keeps being shared listening will strengthen your relationships.
Being an active listener also helps in solving problems faster. Like Stephen Covey says in his book “ The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” Seek first to understand before been understood. If you you slow down and listen first you will be able to identify problems easily and in turn easily find solutions.
So my challenge to you is to always lend someone a listening ear. Make it a habit to ask people how they are and when they answer just be fully immersed and present and LISTEN. It’s that simple.