Wellness Matters NewsletterAn Experience in Creative Journaling

Courtesy of Life Esteem, Published by Simmonds Publications

Listen Well

Effective Communication Requires One Person to Talk...
And, Equally Important, the Other to Listen

     Listening is the other half of communication. Our first thought, when we think about communication, may be to consider the speaker's ability to convey ideas effectively. What we often forget is that without a listener the speaker may as well be talking to the wind. Just as effectual speaking is an acquired skill, so is good listening. Some do it better than others. But all of us can learn to enrich our own listening skills.

     Think about what might happen when you hear someone talk. You may attend to the person's appearance, to activity in the background, to what you did earlier in the day, to a conversation you had with someone else, or to your counterargument and how you will present it. Your mind flits from topic to topic. You may comprehend only fragments of what the other person says. It seems a wonder that people can communicate as well as they do. The speaker may convey only a portion of the real meaning of an intended idea -- and the listener may pick up on only a fraction of the information that is transmitted. We may think that we know what the speaker was trying to say, but often we are absolutely wrong. (Have you ever played the "rumor game" in a large circle? The first person whispers a message to the next in line and this message goes from person to person until it gets to the end of the circle. Something like "two kittens were playing with a ball of string" can easily mutate into "the lion sleeps tonight" as the message is relayed around the circle.)


     Listening is itself form of communication. Listening to another person conveys the message that you care and that you are truly interested in the other person's ideas. Without the ability to listen effectively, one must question whether true intimacy and mutual respect between partners, two of the hallmarks of a successful relationship, are even possible. When you fail to listen to your partner, you may impart the message that he or she doesn't count, that you are the one with all the knowledge, and that you lack respect for your partner. These are hardly the qualities of a thriving and mutually beneficial relationship. Listening means that you want to learn from, enjoy, care about, trust, understand and nurture your partner. A good listener sends the message that he or she is interested in the world and to new ideas and life experiences. To listen well is one way to show that you love well.

Learn to Listen Well

     The first step in mastering good listening skills is to become aware of why listening is important in your life and to your relationships. And the next step is simply to start doing it. Practice listening whenever you can.
Here are few rules to start the process:

  • Never interrupt when the other person is speaking. Allow the speaker to complete his or her thought.
  • Eliminate distractions -- put your book down or turn off the television.
  • Maintain eye contact while the other person is speaking.
  • Pull your chair closer and lean toward the speaker.
  • Keep your posture open -- directly face your partner and leave your arms and legs uncrossed.
  • Give verbal and nonverbal responses to what the speaker is saying -- "yes, I see," nod your head, smile or frown when it's appropriate.




This newsletter is intended to offer general information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from these broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problems.

La Jolla, CA 92037

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