Listening is the most important part of communication, because if you fail to understand the message being expressed to you, you will also fail in providing a substantial and meaningful response. The importance of listening extends far beyond academic and professional settings. Understanding how to practice good communication even in your day to day life, among friends, family, and significant others, is important for a number of reasons: fostering good self-esteem, maximizing productivity, improving relationships, and even becoming a better speaker. "It's not about anyone being right. It's about being willing to listen and understand." Unknown
When you can begin to prepare for your response, remember: you’re still a listener, not a speaker. After the message has been absorbed, processed, and remembered, you can begin to sort the information into pieces.
What is fact, and what is opinion?
Was the speaker demonstrating any particular prejudice with their message?
What portions of the message, if any, were exaggerated?
What parts of their message were interpreted, and which parts were unbiased?
What was the speaker’s intent with their message?
"You must always be willing to listen. How can you expect to understand anyone else, if all you hear is your own voice." Unknown
While some may be impressed with how well you speak, the right people will be impressed with how well you listen. Some of the best people I know are great listeners, and therefore the rule I try to follow is a simple one - talk less and listen more. The best leaders most often are proactive, strategic, and intuitive listeners. They recognise knowledge and wisdom are not gained by talking, but by listening.
Listening plays a vital part in both home life and business and I think we would be foolish to believe that without truly listening to those around us we cannot successfully move forwards as humans.