by Jennifer V.
An often overlooked skill that I wish I had is the skill of listening. I must admit, I am a terrible listener and I have been for the longest time. My attention span is equivalent to a child’s (not really, but kind of) and I have trouble displaying interest when someone is talking to me.
I recently came across a quote that said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” This is something I never thought about and it’s very true. We listen to say something back, we listen to give advice. However, sometimes people don’t want advice, they just want someone to listen and to sympathize.
We should listen with the intent of curiosity, because genuine conversation can only happen if we truly want to learn something new. Something that a lot of us tend to do, especially when a friend is venting about their problems, is turning the conversation and making it about ourselves. We usually do this with good intent, hoping that it shows them we understand what they’re going through because we can relate to the situation. Feedback and responses are always good and shows that you’re listening however, we should keep our own talking to a minimal and especially not shift the focus of the conversation to ourselves.
From now on, I will be more cautious in my everyday conversations, whether I am having a heart to heart conversation with my best friend or a small talk with the cashier at the grocery store; I will listen.