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True Listening

From: Steven Ng pkiam@singnet.com.sg
Sat, 15 May 1999 11:24:30 0800 (SGT)

The late William Lyon Phelps, popular Yale professor and public speaker, used to say that he got credit for only one-fourth of the after-dinner speeches he made.

"Every time I accept an invitation to speak, I really make four addresses," he said. "First is the speech I prepare in advance. That is pretty good. Second is the speech I really make. Third is the speech I make on my way home, which is the best of all; and fourth is the speech the newspapers the next morning say I made, which bears no relation to any of the others!"

If communication fails between professional speakers and professional listeners (newspaper reporters), how can it stand a chance of succeeding with anybody else? One man said in frustration to his wife, "I know you believe you understand what you THINK I said... but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!"

Yet good communication is at the heart of our closest relationships. And at the heart of good communication is effective listening. Effective listening is about... eye contact. Do you listen with your eyes as well as your ears? It's about... silence. Do you still your mind as well as your tongue, or are you thinking about your next response? It's about... insight. Do you listen to the feelings as well as the words?

And above all, it's about... love. To truly listen to another is to give a rare and wondrous gift, the gift of caring. And all it costs is a little time.

Perhaps it's about time... to listen