Letter from Publisher
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Listening is becoming a forgotten art. I can only speak for myself, but I believe the ability to stay focused, to be present and engaged in another’s communication, and to communicate properly is extremely hard. Proper listening takes focus, awareness and, above all, practice. Shutting out my own mental chatter, to forget about what I want to say when it is not my turn is not easy, yet I know, when managed properly, yields great rewards. Particularly when comforting others.
There has always been one common refrain in any therapy and workshop I have attended—“Joe, your job is to listen, hear what your partner is telling you. Just listen! Then when it is your turn to speak, repeat back to her or him what you heard to clarify that you both are on the same page, and that you both agree on the communication, the message or statement.”
This is critically important no matter what type of relationship it is—business, personal, parental. To not simply hear but actively listen to whatever the other person is sharing.
Several years ago, I was lucky enough to take an interpersonal relationships course called “Benefits of Active Listening.” It taught me so much, like body language, eye contact, patience, attention, and how to hear what is really being said or not being said. I believe this should be taught in our schools from the first grade through college—not a single semester should go by without teaching some form of this life skill. Through it, I learned that sometimes not saying a word is the best form of communication and all that is necessary. While it is not easy to be an active listener, it is so rewarding.
Why do I find myself writing about listening? Possibly, it’s because I have a 14-year-old son. Between the social playground of video games, texting, emails, youtube, Facebook, and things I don’t even know exist, I see the world of interpersonal relationships being diminished. I fear the damage lack of direct communication skills will cause for him and all the other kids in the near future.
Listening skills not only help us heal, they are critical in helping us avoid harm in the first place. That’s why I feel strongly that this skill should be taught and used on all levels of our society. If communicating skills were stressed more, what would be the harm?
In peace, love and laughter,