Today’s #fearLESS sparks is listen more. I began to consider what that meant exactly and how this could be different from one individual to the next?
I previously spent my days and at times nights working with young people who had various behavioral, emotional and academic needs. I wore many hats over the course of 15 to 20 years. I was everything from a residential counselor, special education assistant, art teacher, community support counselor, experiential learning summer school teacher, overnight staff and special education teacher. I did this work in lock up facilities, in the community, residential, private and public schools. No matter where I ended up one thing was always abundantly clear. The better listener you were the better results you had. Combine that with demonstrating respect to the individuals you were attempting to help and you had a winning recipe.
Demonstrating good listening skills was one of the primary tools I utilized each day in my profession. Let me be clear I don’t mean just opening ones ears. I mean opening one’s heart. Demonstrating active listening skills where you genuinely care about what this individual is saying and showing them respect while they say it. I believe that to often in this digital age we can forget the importance of ACTIVE listening. The idea of showing interest for longer than a sound bite or a 6 second Vine post seems foreign to many. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously love social media and have a Vine account myself. I’m just saying that the idea of active listening can easily be lost without poor intentions on the part of the listener.
As with anything I believe balance is key. Engaging with others with complete undivided attention is what builds strong relationships, friendships, work partnerships and communities. I suggest that the next time someone calls you (I know imagine that) or has a face to face conversation with you (unheard of lol) see how you rate your listening skills. Are you rusty? Are you on point? Is there room for improvement? Awareness is the key. If your Twitter or email dings and you stop listening then you know there’s room for improvement. When I switched professions to become a social media strategist I vowed not to lose this talent. I found myself more than once having to regroup and remember that this is one of the most important tools in my toolbox.
This rings true while working with clients and creating content, taking photographs and producing images that speak to their brand. I realized once again how important listening is. Listening about their passion. Hearing their vision. Taking their dreams and making them into a creative product that speaks to not only them but their audience. Then listening to their audience. Listening and engaging are essential in order to develop a platform that reflects what they are all about.
Listening is vital whether it’s at work, out to dinner with a friend, chatting with a loved one or just listening and being in tune with your animal companions needs. We all want to be heard. The idea that what we are saying is important and valued by the listener matters to us. Let’s all agree to try to listen more today or better yet every day. I think there would be fewer problems, more connections and better overall communication if we all upped our listening game.
How would you rate your listening skills?