I listen mindfully to my family members and friends on most occasions. I give careful and thoughtful attention to the messages I receive from them. However, on a few occasions, when I am exhausted or preoccupied with other activities, I hear rather than listen to what they say to me. When watching television shows and movies, I often find myself listening mindlessly; I only hear the messages being transmitted but I rarely understand or remember them. I usually watch these shows in the evenings when I am exhausted and my mind is often preoccupied with the events of the day or the plans for the following day.
I have been raised in an environment where it is normal to hear many different forms of messages but only listen when needed. As a child, I often watched television, listened to music and at the same time conversed with my siblings and parents. In such occasions, I would hear all the messages directed at me but only listened when I was required to. Nonetheless, I could get distracted sometimes and my parents had to switch off the television when they needed me to give complete and undivided attention to what they were saying. As a teenager, I used defensive listening on a number of occasions when conversing with my parents . For example, my parents often declined to let me attend night parties and I would defensively listen to their lectures on the dangers of attending such parties.
I listen best in quiet and peaceful environments. When I want to have a meaningful conversation with a friend or family member, I prefer to sit in a quiet room or in a park where there are no distractions. In noisy places, for example where music is playing, I often get carried away or irritated if the music is too loud. Pseudo-listening is often my style of listening in such environments; I nod, smile and pretend to be listening while my mind is somewhere else .
I like engaging in debates and I have realized that I often use ambushing style of listening where I listen carefully for information that I later use to attack what someone has said . I enjoy using the words “My sentiments exactly” or “You just contradicted yourself by saying...,” in reference to a point that someone has raised during a debate.
In general, I often listen to the messages that are put across to me. When attending a conference or a meeting, I am always attentive and I ask questions when I need clarification on a particular issue . I have found that questioning helps me to better understand the messages that are put across and to clear any misconceptions that I may have. I find it easier to listen to an interesting and engaging speaker than to one who is uninteresting.
My main listening responses are ‘supporting’ and ‘analyzing’. I empathize with and often offer to help friends and family members whenever I can. As a student, I have often had to analyze the information given by my teachers. I believe that I can improve my listening skills with training and practice. I have realized that I need to talk less and avoid judging people prematurely in order to be a good listener.
Adler, Ronald B and Russell F Proctor. Looking Out, Looking in. 13. New York: Cengage Learning, 2010.