BOZTEPE: We should all know how to simply shut up, listen to one another

Opinion Column: Kaanotations

Have you ever met someone who has an eager look on their face, a look that shows he is not listening to you when you are talking and is just waiting to talk over you? Yeah, do not be that person, at least if you want people to like and respect you. 

Poor listening skills are a common frailty that the majority of us face, either as those who partake in it or those who experience it. Either way, people are well aware of the disadvantages of this miscommunication, whether it be in work, with a partner or with family. If you really want to change the way you listen in hopes to better your life and lessen your mistakes, you must learn “third-ear” listening skills.

The third-ear concept was introduced by psychoanalyst Theodor Reik, and it refers to the practice of listening on a deeper level. The goal is to be able to listen for more than what was just said out-and-out and perceive the emotional underlying reactions a person conveys when speaking to you. 

Being able to develop this skill is beneficial regardless of what position you are in currently. Not only will you be able to relate more to people and understand how they are truly feeling, but also it will help you better appreciate other people’s opinions and their intentions, which in turn will lead you to make better decisions. 

But, many people still have difficulty listening with both ears, let alone learning the third-ear concept. Due to this, I will be sharing specific tools we can use to improve our listening and analyzing skills.

The first thing we must do is be present. You must remain present with a person through the entirety of the conversation, instead of completing any distracting tasks like checking your phone or reading through an article. 

When you listen attentively, without any distractions, you are more likely to notice gaps within their stories, their argument or vice versa before hearing their full argument. You are then able to pause the conversation and help your friend know what they left unsaid due to your full focus.

We must also determine what each relationship means to us. Becoming accustomed to using your third-ear takes practice, of course, but it also requires compassion. If you have a genuine desire to connect more with a person, then this is where the third-ear concept can flourish if you use it properly. 

Each conversation can build a relationship, especially if we make a genuine effort to hear what people are trying to say. Due to this, we must make a sincere effort to not only hear what they are trying to say, but also understand the context of what they are explaining and try to understand what they are leaving unsaid. 

If you are able to reach this level of a connection, a bond of trust and loyalty begins to grow. Listening is proven to bring us closer together, especially if the person on the opposing end sees how intently you are focusing on details. Details are more than just what they are saying, like hand and face gestures or changes in their voice.

We all know those people who are great listeners and who we know we can go to for advice, venting or simply just sharing something and walking away feeling content that you spent time with them. Your experience with this person is usually much more relaxed than with others because you feel heard and cared for, without any struggle of getting all of your thoughts out or a feeling that you are going to be interrupted in-between thoughts. 

These people are normally the most trustworthy, most genuine and most professional people you know, so when in doubt, imitation is the best form of flattery. Flip the script next time you see them, and you do the listening. 

Listening is a difficult but learnable skill. If you are ready to fully commit and want to seem more well-rounded, remember when to bite your tongue and focus on the tone of voice and the majority of the content.

Everyone has weaknesses, so it would be best to figure out what yours are before you try to better yourself. 

For example, if your weakness is impatience, you might struggle being a good listener. For those of you who have this weakness, you must consciously stop yourself from interrupting and be patient with whomever is speaking. Avoid making assumptions when you are actively listening and train yourself to not fill in the gaps with your own understanding. Rather, clarify with them after they have finished their thought. 

Last and most importantly, practice humility. You will be surprised at how much it will free your mind to focus on someone else’s issues. Be open to others. There is a lot to gain and the time to start is now.

Kaan Jon Boztepe is a School of Arts and Sciences senior double majoring in philosophy and history. His column, "Kaanotations," runs  on alternate Tuesdays.  


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