The art of listening

We’re listening, but we’re not really listening. Listening is one of the most important skills we will develop in our lifetime. It’s so important, yet we consciously fail to grasp its concept.

The act of listening isn’t just about hearing words, but paying attention to what’s really being said. We hear words, but we’re not concentrating. We must listen beyond words and look deep into its meaning. Body language and tone are equally as important, particularly where there is an emotional component attached to its meaning.

When we skim the surface, we not only miss the true meaning of the message, but will also miss the translation of the relationship itself. We seem disinterested in what the other person has to say. Listening has a tremendous impact on building trust in any relationship. When we’re listening we show the other person we care.

When we listen, we also learn to observe the body language. A study carried out at UCLA looked at the extent to which emotional messages are sent through words, tone and body language. Regarding the true meaning of an emotional message, the study discovered that:

  • 7 percent of meaning is in the words that are spoken
  • 38 percent of meaning is in the tone of voice
  • 55 percent of meaning is in facial expression

When we listen we show we are interested not only in what the other person has to say, but in their life too and it’s that which will impact greatly on building and rebuilding relationships.


20 Mar, 2014

4 thoughts on “The art of listening

  1. Yes, I agree. Listening is very important. I can usually tell if someone is listening to me or not, especially my husband. I guess it’s because we’ve ben together for almost 20 years and we know each other well.

    I try very hard to listen to people when they are talking to me and also observe their body language. When I talk I use my hands a lot, even if I’m on the phone I will use my hands.

    I also think with small children, we should especially pay attention to their body language. They aren’t as good at expressing themselves with just talking. I pay attention to my son’s body language very well because he hasn’t mastered the art of speaking very well and can’t express himself with just words.

    We must also listen to the tone of the person speaking. If you’re on the phone or computer and having a conversation you can’t pay attention to body language, so the tone is important.

    1. Thanks Lisa! I agree with you about children and expression.

      Not that I was encouraged to express myself as a child, but you’re right and I agree with you, children aren’t always able to express themselves, which is why they should always be encouraged.

      There is an art to listening well. For some of us that skill needs to be honed.

  2. Interesting post, especially the survey results. Seems we communicate verbally the least.

    Listening in this manner is not a skill I was born with! I have however learned how important it is to any relationship and now I make a positive effort to do just that.

    1. I agree as a nation we seem to communicate less and less. The important thing though, is that you now understand how important it is to any relationship.

      It’s a sad reality that relationships break down as a consequence, because we fail to pay attention and listen.

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