INTERNATIONAL DAY OF LISTENING
Every year on the third Thursday in September, the International Day of Listening promotes the importance of listening to one another. It’s also a day to practice the art of listening.
Whether in the workplace, at home, or in a social setting, listening well is an important skill. Listening builds trust, reduces misunderstandings, and helps eliminate conflict. Additionally, listening improves relationships and deepens friendships. Unfortunately, though, not everyone is a good listener.
Have you ever heard the saying that there is a reason we have two ears and one mouth? The exact saying came from a Greek philosopher named Epictetus. It goes, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” For some reason, though, this doesn’t seem to hold true. Most people have a natural desire to talk. But when we’re talking, we’re not listening.
Besides wanting to do all the talking, there are other reasons people are bad listeners. Oftentimes, we have already formed an opinion of someone before we talk to them. These preconceptions make it harder to hear what they have to say. Distractions and trying to multitask are other reasons people don’t listen well.
Here are some ways to become a better listener:
- First, create a comfortable setting when having a conversation.
- Be okay with silences.
- Ask good questions.
- Never interrupt the person talking.
- Don’t stress about saying the right thing.
- Don’t jump to conclusions.
For many people, listening well takes practice. But like most things, the more you practice, the easier it gets.
HOW TO OBSERVE #InternationalDayOfListening
On this day, the International Listening Association encourages people around the world to have one-on-one conversations. Businesses are encouraged to hold special seminars that educate others about the importance of listening in the workplace. In addition, communities can hold meetings where citizens listen to one another’s concerns. To participate:
- Make it a point to do more listening than talking on this day.
- Find ways to improve your listening skills.
- Read a self-help book about listening, such as “The Power of Listening” by Damian Blair or “I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships” by Michael S. Sorenson.
- Check out “The Listening Skills Podcast” by Lyn Lindbergh.
Share your favorite listening tip on social media with #InternationalDayOfListening.
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF LISTENING HISTORY
Dr. Ralph G. Nichols, known as “The Father of Listening,” formed the International Listening Association (ILA) in 1979. Dr. Nichols was a professor at the University of Minnesota when he formed the ILA. The ILA promotes the study, development, and teaching of listening. To further this goal, the ILA developed the International Day of Listening in 2016.
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