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“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”

Karl A. Menninger

Listening is really the key to understanding and therefore to success. When we think of listening, we think of the ear. Yes, hearing is a physiological process that takes place in the ear. Real listening though is done with the mind — we focus, we pay attention to the speaker, we shut off distracting thoughts and we work to understand the message. Companies are demanding better communication skills from their new hires. Listening is a primary communication skill, the one we use most often in fact. Success comes from really listening, whether it is  in a professional setting or something more personal like listening to the spouse, a friend or even our bodies. How often does our body tell us we need to slow down and rest for a bit, but we keep on pushing to get the job done. I’m working on this one, seriously!

In a culture that often requires multi-tasking, focusing on what is being said falls by the wayside. Without focus and attention, listening for understanding and connection is lost; the relationship suffers. As this post was percolating, I paid attention to how people listened, including myself. I realized how often I had to repeat myself or asked others to do the same. I had to wonder if it was about how well we were, or were not, listening.

Like everything else, it is a process of focusing, paying attention, turning off any distractions and turning on to the message being sent. Good luck and much success!

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