Listen . . . Are You?
By Tom Ford (Virginia Tech ’83)
Let’s talk about communication, more importantly listening.
Do you know what communication is? Do you know what effective communication is? Do you know there are just two aspects to communication? That’s right, there are just two. Just because there are only two that doesn’t mean effective communication is easy.
There are a few things that you must do to have effective communication. Notice I keep using the word effective. Many people attempt to communicate, but many times they flounder because many times they just want to hear themselves talk, or they don’t care to listen. When those things happen, that’s when effective communication goes out the window. I’ll be the first person to say I don’t always communicate effectively. As my wife has pointed out, If I’m not communicating about food, sports or fitness, then my communication tends to lack. I know plenty of men that have gotten the same feedback. Seriously, we all can work on increasing the effectiveness of our communication!
And there you have it! I just told you the two parts of communication. Did you catch them? The two parts are sending information and receiving information. Did you know we send and receive information utilizing all 5 senses? And did you know over 80% of all communication is nonverbal? Did you also know the hardest part of communication is receiving and understanding information or listening well!
That is what I am going to focus on here – Listening. I am going to give you ten keys to help improve your listening skills. The more people to have the ability and willingness to listen and understand, the better the chances of having improved communication!
Questions for Discussion & Reflection
Take some to personally reflect on these, or have a conversation with brothers about what you’ve read.
- Which of these tips is easiest for you to implement? Which one is hardest? Why?
- Consider someone who you’d call a good listener. What do they do that makes them so good at listening? Which of their strategies could you use?
- Think about a recent misunderstanding, frustration or conflict you’ve had with someone else. How did listening play a role in this? How could listening have helped?
Putting It Into Practice
Incorporate strategies into your daily life to become a better listener.
- Spend some time “people watching” for listening. Take time in a coffee shop, cafeteria, student union, or other public area to watch social connections in action. Seeing how others are putting these strategies into action (or not) can allow you to compare your own listening skills.
- Pair up with someone. Set a timer for one minute. For one minute, one of you should talk about a topic of your choosing. The other person should just listen and not give any verbal feedback. After one minute, switch places. Following the activity, discuss how this felt and any realizations you had on your listening tendencies.
- Watch for how listening is happening in the shows or movies you watch. Consider how listening (or failing to listen correctly) impacts the plot.
A graduate of VA Tech with a BS in Exercise Science Tom has over 30 years experience in the fields of Athletic Training, Health Coaching and Education-working with such great organizations as VA Tech; Butler University, the Philadelphia Football Eagles, the YMCA, the NATA, and the ACSM to mention a few.
With his passion for learning and helping others and his entrepreneurial spirit Tom has created companies- ARC2Enterprises; A Foundation for Health LLC and boq-Aquatic Exercise Equipment LLC. Through these companies Tom and his team have created aquatic exercise programming (BOQUA) and aquatic exercise equipment(boqs) His balanced approach to learning and serving others is guided by the principle that health is a state of being mentally, physically, socially and spiritually and each of us has the ability and responsibility to discover and establish that balance between the four.