Wednesday, 26 November 2014

How to Listen Properly

How to Listen Properly

  1. Use your ears, and nothing else. Simply listen. Take in everything being said. See what is there, hear how it affects people, realise these are fellow human beings.
  2.  Do not judge. Everyone’s experiences are unique and their own. They will have come to that experience on a different pathway from you. You don’t know the whole story. Do not assume so. The more you listen, the more you will learn, and the more you will understand.
  3. Do not attempt to solve the problem. This includes saying something in an attempt to change someone’s mind. Above all, do not attempt to “correct” them.  That stupid AllLivesMatter hashtag was NOT proper listening. The only time to offer a solution is if you’re invited to help. Sometimes people express themselves not because they want someone else to solve the problem but simply because they want to be heard and understood.
  4. Do your best to understand where the other person is coming from. You don’t have to agree with their stand or support their ideals. But you do need to understand why and how they feel the way they do. Humanity’s destiny is not homogeneity, but excellence through diversity.
  5. Practice respect. There is a time for respectful, constructive dialogue, but that time is not necessarily Right Now. Simply listening with the aim of understanding is one of the most respectful things you can do. It’s the best way to start. Sometimes it’s the best way to end.

The Value of Listening

Yesterday I popped on Twitter to announce some personal promotional news. So, like everyone else on Twitter, I burst into the room with a handful of noise, then settled down to read.

One of the first things I saw was some advice from Mary Robinette Kowal advising (generally) that now might not be the best time for promotion. Why? Because now is not the time to be saying stuff, but to be listening. 

Something serious was going down, so I read on.

In August Michael Brown was shot dead by a police officer. This week the grand jury did not indict the officer responsible for the shooting. 

There was a whole lotta people justifiably upset over his death and the court’s refusal to indict. They are angry. They are frustrated. They are openly voicing that disappointment.

Also, as you get on the Internet, there are too many fools  (either deliberate or accidental) who just had to say something stupid or incendiary or ignorant.

That is the last thing you should be doing at a moment like this.  So after I spent a moment feeling embarrassed over posting my rather insignificant announcement, I thumbed over to the #Ferguson thread and simply listened.

When I was young, I had much to say, but nobody ever listened to me. I remember my frequent frustration over not being listened to. So yeah. I completely understand where these people come from.  The best thing you can do is to listen, truly listen.

Her Grace spent quite some time listening to #Ferguson. She hopes others are listening enough to enact positive change. If you are interested in my news, go right ahead and check it out. Otherwise, carry on.

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