Editorial: Are we losing the art of listening?


Rebekah Waldron, North Campus Editor

Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we talk.” Listening is an art, with which we are losing touch, and fast.
Listening, truly listening, is being quiet and absorbing what someone is saying to us.
To listen properly, we have to learn how to do more than just hear someone’s voice as it mumbles in our general direction.
We have to find the meaning behind the words they’re saying. Doing this makes it more possible to have a meaningful response, one that’s relevant to the conversation.
How often do we repeat ourselves? How often are we part of a one-way conversation? Do we actually remember what people are telling us?
We need to understand our surroundings in order to function as a stronger person, especially if any of us want to be a decent leader. We need to understand the humans in our surroundings.
Listening is a skill that is developed over time. It must constantly be practiced and exercised if we don’t want to lose it. It is one of the greatest and most basic skills a leader needs to be able to be effective.
Earlier this year, I was talking to a friend of mine. She asked me what my favorite color was, and I told her it was orange. A couple days later, she handed me an adorable and artsy little home-made wand, painted orange.
I was surprised that she not only remembered my favorite color, but that she acted on it. It was a moment of realization for me, that it’s rare now to see a genuine connection between people.
Forming bonds are now things that are reserved for dating and maybe one or two of our closest friends. We’re even losing touch in listening to our families.
Half of the drama and miscommunication crap can be avoided if we just shut up for a minute, ask questions to make sure we’re on the same page, and listen to what we’re being told. We learn more, we expand when we listen. We communicate effectively, and we can speak more confidently.
We need to reach out more, to put the phones down from time to time and remember how to connect with each other, and put the human back in humanity.
We spend so much time on our phones or sucked into movies and shows that so often, we forget what it’s like to sit down in a quiet office at the end of the day and learn more about the person that you work with. We forget what it’s like to sit across a table from a new face and learn about them.
When is the last time you listened to how a person really talked? How they pronounce certain words, how they carry on a conversation, where their train of thought really travels?
We need the art of listening to be more prevalent than it is. Without it, we lose a spark in humanity that relies on genuine connection, just for the sake of connection.
We are so quick to hop on dating apps or playing hard to get, that we forget how to genuinely get to know and appreciate a person for who they are and how they got to be where they are right now.