Schools (institutions of thought) give great focus on teaching learners to read, write and speak with eloquence, but the skill of listening effectively is not given the same importance, although we spend most of the day hearing various stimuli in the environment. As a result good listeners are rare. On many occasions when engaged in conversations we tend to selectively listen to same parts of a statement or question and give incomplete answers or responses that don’t satisfy what has been asked or said.
Leaders, be it commercial, spiritual or political, get their mandate from listening to the needs of consumers, congregation and citizens. From what they (leaders) have heard, they then formulate the vision of the collective. Without understanding the trials and tribulations of one’s people a leader can not create goals and objectives for the people they serve. Therefore the envisioned future that leads to solutions of problems faced by society can’t achieve. There’ll never be leaders if we are hasty to speak and do not listen to the pains and sorrows of one’s followers.
Listening requires patience, people are in a hurry to respond because it is painful to wait, patience is a discipline that all of us ought to seek to attain. Our inability to suppress our own opinion leads us to jump the gun and complete sentences of another when they are yet to say what’s on their minds. An eminent foe of good listening is loving the sound of ones voice; to addition thinking that one has sole copyright on reason and knowledge. On the same note the conviction that the opinions of others do not matter.
Between introverts and extroverts who are the best at listening? The former are introspective, they prefer to carefully examine their own thoughts and are not motivated to pursue social contact. They are interested in their own feeling and abhor spending time with others, and as a consequence are viewed as less friendly and gregarious. Extroverts are characterize as assertive, outgoing, friendly and its believed that they are happier than others.
These mentioned characters of the two personality types don’t indicate who are better listeners, however. In my opinion one needs traits of both the personality types in order to be a good listener. One must have the ability to keep quiet like the introvert and the ability to love the company of others like the extrovert . One ought to be what I call “intra-inter-vertion”; the ability to know yourself and pursue to understand those around you.
Every time we utter it is a cultural act, (Kramsch, 1993). There can not be a distinction between language and culture. Language carries knowledge and cultural information. When a native English speaker utters, the first objective of the second language speaker is to create meaning from what was said. Some cultures focus on the context of what is spoken and give little consideration on the words used, by making meaning from body language, energy, eye contact in order to understand what people say.
Listening is a paramount skill in teaching and learning. Although there are cultural generalizations and listening as individuals we are unique and within culture people listen differently. To have an education that is complete the same importance that is given to reading, writing, and speaking should be given to the imperative skill of listening.