Learning to listen

Learning to listen. Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Learning to listen.
Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

By Micayela Konviser | Published March 3, 2017

Everyday people spend a lot of time listening to others. Despite this, many don’t see listening as a skill that for a lot of people needs some work.

“Most of us don’t realize that we are not such great listeners,” said Professor Sara Boden-Learner, who began teaching a listening class at Kean three semesters ago.  “The focus of this class is to a become more self aware of our listening skills and then learn to develop them.”

Bodin-Learner, an.instructional designer, communication coach and a professor who taught at Kean University for 17 years, says that becoming a better listener can have many benefits.

“Good listeners are going to have better personal relationships, better professional relationships, just all interpersonal relationships will improve because the main problem that we have, the conflicts that arise are as a result of not listening properly or not properly understanding each other,”  she said.

During the semester-long class students spend time doing listening activities, projects to work on empathy, and of course, a lot of time listening to each other.

In order to become a better listener, Boden-Learner says the first step is to want to.

“Listening is an intentional activity,” she said. “You have to decide, “alright I’m going to do this, and I’m going to focus.””

She says it is also important to focus on the needs of others, instead of your own.

“It’s really about becoming other oriented and listening to what they are saying.” she said. “What their message is, and trying to understand it the way they intend to be understood,” she said.

Oftentimes when listening to another person people are not really focused on what the person is saying in that moment.

“Most of us, what we’re doing while somebody is talking is coming up with things that we’re going to respond with, coming up with judgements about what they’re saying, or just thinking about something else,” said Boden-Learner.

In order to become a better communicator it is necessary to become better at listening. By becoming better listeners, Boden-Learner says that will lead communicating in a way so that others will listen to you.

Boden-Learner says that listening will not only help with understanding others, but also with communication.

“We all know that public speaking is really important, but nobody ever teaches you how to listen. and yet, the expectation for us to be able to listen is always there,” said Boden-Learner.

Boden-Learner says that becoming a good listener can take a lifetime. However, during the semester-long class it is possible to get a good start.

“What this course will do is teach you what the skills are, make you hyper aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are, and then the rest of your life you can keep working on making them better,” she said.

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