Offered by: Colorado Karate Club
That’s what my teenage daughter complained to me many years ago as I was telling her what I wanted her to do. I don’t remember what the conversation was about, but those words stuck in my mind. Hearing that made me think: “Am I not a good listener already?”, “Should I be even listening to my child, when I -as I figured- already know what is best?”
It was not that day or the next, not even that week or month, but over time, I came to realize that, just like my daughter had accurately noted, I was not a good listener; not with my children, and not even half the time with other people. Something had to change.
Most of us believe we are great listeners already, but as I shared with my Karate students, listening, just like speaking, is a skill that must be learned, developed, and perfected.
Reading through the book “The Lost Art of Listening” by Michael P. Nichols, PHD. I came to learn many valuable techniques and concepts about listening, the central one being that listening is to make a sincere effort to understand what the other person is thinking and feeling. To be a witness to their experiences and to truly care. I never thought of it before, but active listening does take a lot of work, and practicing it is essential to get better at it.
In a world where conflict seems to spark just about everywhere: at home, at the store, at work, on social media, and even worse between countries, understanding the thoughts and motivations of our counterparts is the first and most important step in mutual cooperation and peaceful coexistence.
While I would like to report that I am now a great listener, I must admit that I am still a work in progress, probably a green-belt (in Karate terms). At least, I realize now, that there is a great need in each one of us to be heard, so I try my best. Now think about those around you who often choose YOU to be a witness to their life experiences, your child, your spouse, a customer, or even a stranger. You have the opportunity to hear them out and when they are done sharing, they may say, “I am glad I talked to you, you get me”. That’s what I wish for you and for myself.
Willy Strohmeier – Colorado Karate Club