Speak your peace: Listen
By Amber Kiggens-Leifheit
MACF Executive Director
The Marshfield Area Community Foundation sponsors the Speak Your Peace Civility Project. The basic principles are simple and straightforward and involve the idea that it is often not what is said but how it is said that initiates conflict. The more we all learn about polite, civil discussion is a good thing. It is worth a try, and it may help bring our community together. This week we will examine: Listen.
We have all been there. We say something, and we know our spouse/friend/co-worker/boss was not listening. It hurts. We take it for granted that when we talk, the other person should be listening.
As listeners, we are often focused on ourselves and our own needs, preventing us from doing a good job of listening. We interrupt. Sudden distractions prevent us from listening as well. All of us have been in a situation where you as the talker decide just to stop talking. You know the listener is not listening and it is not worth proceeding.
What is it that keeps so many of us from really listening? What does a good listener look like? Who do you consider to be a good listener? What are some common behaviors of a good listener?
What are the obstacles to good listening? Is the environment too distracting? Does the phone keep ringing, or do children or co-workers keep interrupting? How would you minimize these obstacles?
I know it helps me to remind myself to listen. Seriously, I know this sounds goofy, but I make the conscious choice to say to myself, “I am going to listen, I am not going to interrupt, and I am not going to think about my next question.” Sometimes it is hard to remain silent. The experts tell us that good listeners make eye contact, smile, seek to understand, ask effective questions, and respect the talker through their body language and words. They encourage the speaker to continue saying phrases such as, “Right,” “I understand,” or, “I didn’t know that.”
All of these ideas may help us to lessen the obstacles to listening, but we all have to be mindful of practicing good listening skills.
If you are interested to learn more, visit marshfieldareacommunityfoundation.org/index.php?page=speak-your-peace, or give us a call at 715-384-9029.