We all have a need to be heard. Whenever good things happen to us, we want to share our excitement with others. Whenever bad things happen to us, we want to vent to someone. We do these things and expect the person we’re speaking with to listen whole heartedly to what we are saying. However, when it’s flipped around and someone talks to us, are we returning the favor?
According to a study conducted by Wright State University, the average person listens at only 25% efficiency. Which means it’s safe to say that for most of us, things go in one ear and out the other.
“Almost everyone sincerely believes that he or she listens effectively. Consequently, very few people think they need to develop their listening skills,” wrote Dr. Scott Williams in a newsletter about the study. “But, in fact, listening effectively is something that very few of us do.”
We all might think we are good listeners but in reality we could be exhibiting bad listening habits and not even know it. Jeff Lazarus is the author of “Listen Like a Dog”, and he believes listening is something we can learn from man’s best friend.
“Dogs don’t interrupt us or finish our sentences,” said Jeff. “Dogs don’t just listen with their ears, they listen with their entire being.”
In his book, Jeff gives 10 “Leash Law Violations” which are things we do that make us bad listeners. Here are 3 of them:
“When we interrupt someone, what we’re really saying is that we understand their thoughts better than they do or that what they are saying isn’t as important or intelligent as what we have to say. And so that person feels negated, devalued, invalidated. They shut down.” -Jeff Lazarus (Pg. 22)
2. Giving Advice
“One of the most annoying leash law violations is to jump in and solve a person’s problems before they’ve even finished explaining them…Remember: the goal of listening is to understand, not to diagnose, prescribe, fix, or solve. After the person fully explained the problem, and if they actively request our help, only then should we begin to offer solutions.”- Jeff Lazarus (Pg. 26)
3. Noise Making
“Many of us think we must emit a continual stream of verbal excreta in order to demonstrate that we’re listening. This ranges from a simple ‘uh-huh’ or ‘yeah’ or even a medium sized phrase like ‘yeah, I know what you mean’. Though it can be helpful, especially on the phone, to occasionally make noise to let the listener know you haven’t wander off, mindless noisemaking tells the speaker you’re not really listening but rather putting on a show of listening.” -Jeff Lazarus (Pg. 23)
“Listen Like a Dog” offers insightful tips on how we can become better listeners and train ourselves to not break the “leash laws”. Check under the interview tab at the top of the page to hear the full interview or visit the Rowan Radio podcast page.