I had a teacher once ask me if I heard him or if I was listening?
Active Listening by Carl Rogers is the most succinct book I’ve read on listening. And the only book I’ve ever read, that’s dedicated to the topic of listening entirely.
Most books on communication focus on speaking, persuasion, and rhetoric. Speaking is seen as the active half of communication, whereas listening is considered passive. The dismal standard that qualifies as listening today sits somewhere above, I’m not currently looking at my phone and not far below, I hear you, but this is why you’re wrong.
There is a subtle art to connection that we’ve lost in the medium of technology and the dominance game of winning and losing arguments.
I have an internal “avatar-like” representation of myself which may or may not be a realistic view of the way other people view me. But having a “real conversation” requires that I set aside the ideal of my personal avatar, and risk seeing the world (and myself) as other people see it (and me).
The ultimate goal of this process in active listening is to build relationships that cultivate mutual creativity rather than thinking at or past each other.
- Be interested. While everyone in the world is concerned with being interesting, be interested. Demonstrate genuine interest in the other person by seriously trying to listen.
- Withhold judgment, critical or favorable, because both can make organic expression less natural.
- Listen for content and feeling. Content is what is said, feeling is how its stated. Listen for words that are stated clearly, and notice which are less confident or murmured.
- Confirm what you you heard.
Adopt this ground rule for continued discussion: before either participant in the discussion can make a point or express an opinion of his own, he must first restate aloud the previous point or position of the other person.
Would recommend this book to anyone looking to make listening a summer hobby.