After an intensive 2-month study, Professor Paul Rankin of Ohio State University reported that 70% of the waking day involved interpersonal communication.

Of that chunk of time,

  • 45% was spent listening
  • 30% involved speaking
  • 16% was engaged in writing
  • 9% was occupied reading. 

That was 1939 and those were college students. Has much changed since then?

Despite the explosion of technology and information, human nature and basic human needs have changed very little, if at all. Communication is still a major part of our life and listening remains the cornerstone. 

Consider these good reasons to listen.

     1.  Good listening habits earn respect.

By listening attentively, genuinely and consistently, you show you value people. In return, they will respect you, pay attention when you have something to say, welcome your ideas and look for your feedback. 

     2.  Good listening habits help you understand.

“Faking attention” is one of the worst and most frequently deployed listening habits.

Researchers say our brains are capable of processing 500 words per minute. We can communicate at an average of between 150-200 words per minute.

So, imagine this scenario.

You are in a conversation with a friend. You’re excited about the topic and talking at full speed—200 wpm (words per minute).

They seem to be listening, but something doesn't feel right.

Reality check. Your friend’s mind is racing at somewhere between 400 – 500 wpm. You’re speaking at 200 wpm. What do you suppose their mind is doing with the “empty mental space”?

That’s right. It’s wandering into daydreams or wrestling with worries lurking in the shadow of their mental landscape.

How much do they actually hear? and understand?

Hearing is easy, listening is hard work. Few people refine their listening skills to not only hear but actually understand what is being said.   

     3.  Good listening habits help you learn.

          (a) You learn about people and how to better relate.

Knowing about human nature and behavior helps you navigate around hidden shoals—weaknesses, character flaws, personality quirks—that can shipwreck friendship. You learn where open channels of communication flow and move relationships forward. 

You learn where and how to say what you really want to say without being misunderstood. You don’t take everything personally. You hear people out. You even learn how to agree to disagree.

          (b) You gain useful knowledge.

Useful bits of information and nuggets of wisdom are gained with keen listening. Sometimes these gems are hidden in people you least expect. Never underestimate anyone. The janitor or the waitress may have a “piece of information” you need.

 Without well-honed listening skills, we are confined to the commonplace. Only when good listening becomes a habit can we become extraordinary. 

“As you listen will you grow in wisdom and your heart be drawn into understanding, which will empower you to make right decisions.”                                       (Proverbs 23:19 The Passion Translation)


Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash


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