26/07/2017 The difficulty of listening

When I was a clinical psychology major and had an intention to be a clinical psychologist, I got trained in listening to other people. You may be surprised. Why is training necessary just to listen? The truth is, we are never going to be a good listener unless trained in a proper way. 

There are at least two factors that hinder you from being a good listener. One is power balance. When two people talk, they usually take turns in talking. I say something, then you say something in response to it,  I say something back and so on and so on. However, this turn taking often goes out of order. One of the interlocutors can sometimes take every turn for a while, so that the other one cannot utter a single word. Or I guess no one has never had someone interrupting you while they are talking. A good listener strikes the balance and tries to control the turn taking, for if you let the other person speak as they please, you will definitely get drowned in the sea of information and end up confused about what they are trying to convey.

The other factor is your propensity. If you are interested in this article, I advise you to try recording a conversation of yours. On hearing the record afterwards you will notice yourself being selective in the choice of topics you react to. For example, suppose someone told you a story which is composed of three parts. You will make an unconscious choice and respond to a specific part of the story. Good listeners know their propensity and they are careful not to ignore what they don't want to listen to and talk about. 

As I wrote in other articles, I am a part time English teacher and I do the teaching on the one-on-one basis. Being a teacher with one student in front of you and organising a lesson through the talk with them turned out much more difficult than I thought it was last year. When I feel I did it wrong, it is always due to the bad listening.