So you probably agree that listening is important. But what does it mean to listen? We heard a story about a high school music appreciation class that provides a meaningful answer to that question. The teacher of the class asked for a volunteer to explain the difference between listening and hearing. At first no one wanted to answer; but finally, a student raised his hand. When the teachers called on him, he said, “Listening is wanting to hear.” That answer is a great start. To become a good listener, you have to want to hear. But you also need some skills to help you.
To increase your understanding of others as you listen, follow these guidelines offered by Eric Allenbaugh:
1. Listen with a head-heart connection.
2. Listen with the intent of understanding.
3. Listen for the message and the message behind the message.
4. Listen for both content and feelings.
5. Listen with your eyes—your hearing will be improved.
6. Listen for others’ interest, not just their position.
7. Listen for what they are saying and not saying.
8. Listen with empathy and acceptance.
9. Listen for the areas where they are afraid and hurt.
10. Listen as you would like to be listened to.
From "Becoming a Person of Influence" by John Maxwell and Jim Dornan