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Learning to Listen: When Lending Your Ear is More Powerful than Words ~Amanda Allison, M.Ed.

As an educator of 15 years, I know what works and what doesn't in the classroom. I boldly speak the truth and always will.

Be a good listener.

Be a good listener.

It is hard. How many times do we become so busy, so engrossed in our own thoughts and to-do’s of the day that we forget to really listen to another person? I know I have been guilty of this far more than I care to admit. Taking the time to really listen takes effort, time, and attention, three things that are always in short supply nowadays. There is an infinite number of other things we could do and to really listen to another has now become a lost art brushed by the human heart. Imagine how much time and energy our ancestors spent listening to each other around a communal fire? Times have changed tremendously. We are busy - much busier. But with what?

Busy, Busy, Busy:

On any given day, adults are bombarded with a litany of things to do. Our daily checklist is ever increasing. We have breakfasts and lunches to make, meetings, phone calls, deadlines to meet, errands to run, household chores to complete, children who need our love and attention, homework, sports, meals to prepare, pets that press us for attention and so on. Throw technology into the picture and time itself seems to get crunched. How many times do we open our phones or laptops with the intent to accomplish a goal and find, perhaps hours later, we’ve wasted our precious time perusing social media and getting ensnared in the ever enticing web of the internet? We are busier perhaps now more than ever in our human history. We have more stuff, more to do, more “friends” and more information than we really know what to do with. But are we happier? Are we truly fulfilled?

Slam it Shut:

Sometimes our “busyness” gets the better of us. In order to catch our breath and remember who we are in this ever-changing crazy world of ours, we need to just slam our laptops shut, turn off our phones, and...just be. Listen. Listen to the birds. Listen to the wind. Listen to those around you. The stirrings of life in all its forms can fill our senses and reconnect us with nature in a way that can cleanse, replenish, and refresh even the weariest of souls.

Hearing is Not Listening:

To say, “I hear you,” is not the same as saying, “I’m listening to you.” We hear things all the time throughout our day and often pay little attention to these things. Unconsciously, sounds, and even voices begin to blur into a mix of unnoticed background noise. I can hear a car horn, children laughing, a dog bark or doors close. If I am focused on a task, these noises of life fade until almost inaudible. That is hearing.

Conversely, listening is where we focus solely on the voices or sounds around us. We take in each word or octave and ruminate, reflect and ponder on those words or sounds until they resonate and create deeper meaning in our minds. We create memories and acquire knowledge when we really listen. We listen to a speaker giving a talk on a subject matter of deep interest to us. In school, we listen to the instructor telling us ideas and theories that will need to be put into practice when studying a field of knowledge we will one day have a career in. We listen in the church to the words that will enrich our lives and help us along the path of our lives. We listen to the noises a baby makes when babbling and cooing at us to engage us. We listen intently to a friend in need who cries upon our shoulders when life gets too burdensome.

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Resist the Urge to Talk:

When making the choice to put the “busyness” of the world away and focus on the person who is speaking, it may be tempting to “fill” breaks in conversation with your ideas, your insight, or your way to fix things. These “filler” words may make you feel that you are being helpful and wise. However, uttering these crafty filler words, offered for good intent, may just do the opposite. They could stifle conversation or shatter the moment. Silence and contemplation often go hand in hand with deep listening. People don’t always speak about their problems so that you can fix them and be done with it. Sometimes, people need your ears to really listen, care, and be there. Be fully present. This allows another to “think out loud” and work through his or her own struggles while you are present to lend support. Just be there. Sometimes the greatest gift you can offer someone is you! Offer your time and your ears to someone in need. Don’t worry if you don’t know what to say. Sometimes, no words are the right words.

Honor Others By Honing In:

When you hone the practice of listening, others may take notice. Be available. You may find that more people will feel comfortable opening up. Feeling free of judgment, they may be able to express ideas and feelings that otherwise would remain choked and hidden. Releasing these feelings and unburdening themselves to another soul can be cleansing. Meaningful connections are made. A fresh new beginning can ensue from lending your ear - along with a deeper friendship.

Great Times, Terrible Times: We’ve All Had Them.

People learn through connections. The people in our lives are the ones who build those connections. Think back to your favorite memories. Most likely, there were people involved that made those memories so rich. Relationships are what make life rich. From infancy to adulthood relationships form our understandings and realities as we learn. From others, we learn about ideas, other people, places, and the things of our world. When we experience good things and have good news to share, that is often exactly what we do. We share those wonderful experiences with others like a well overflowing! This is also true when we experience difficulty in our lives. When times are tough and adversity gets the better of us, we often seek out others to talk to and share our strife. Sometimes it is our turn to share. Sometimes it is our turn to listen. Don’t forget to listen. Give the gift of being a good listener to those in your life. Listen to others the way you would want to be listened to. One day soon, you may be the one to ask a friend, “ Got ears?”


Amanda Allison (author) from New England on July 24, 2020:

Yes! It is nice to listen in! Thanks so much for sharing!


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 24, 2020:

I like this. The notion here is a big part of my life. I just love to listen.I especially like to listen to two others converse. Mom and son are just the best.

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