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The Lost Art of Listening

Written by Heidi Allan

Hearing Health | Tips

14 Sep 2020

During this time of lockdown, we are spending far more time with our family members and fellow householders than we have ever before. We have often bemoaned the fact that we don’t have enough time to spend with our families – and now we have. And it is harder than we thought.

These challenges result because we now have to be more present and attentive and interactive than on a normal day where our interaction at home may be limited to “What time must I fetch the kids?”, “What do you want for supper?” and “I am so tired, I think I am just going chill in front of the TV”.

For many of us, our daily work demands are such that we are expected to talk all the time, promoting our ideas, putting forward our personal brand, and often not taking time to listen. But what we are realizing in this time that we are spending in a different way of life is that we also need to listen and listen intentionally to build and maintain our relationships.

“The more we talk, the less we hear. We are lonelier and more fearful when we stop listening.” Melanie Reid (Journalist).

We seldom listen carefully and with intent to what people have to say. We are so busy planning our response that we don’t really listen to the words and the intent of our fellow communicators. But if we think about, listening is more valuable than speaking as it is only by listening that we engage, understand, connect, empathise and develop as human beings.

It is in listening that children first learn to speak, it is in listening that we learn to make sense of our world, it is in listening that we first learn to develop a love of story and then to read, it is in listening that we learn songs and poems and prayers, and it is in listening that we build relationships, a skill fundamental to any successful relationship.

As an audiologist, hearing is my work, but listening is my passion. For what use is the ability to hear if we do not use it to listen and how limiting is it if we cannot hear and therefore not listen? Over the next few weeks, I will continue to share some thoughts and suggestions regarding listening and how we can become more effective in this area.

“Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus (Greek Philospher).

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