“Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Stephen R Covey
The answer is yes, most people. Often people listen to what a person is starting to convey to them, they recognise the subject, they start to ponder upon their own opinion regarding the subject of which the person is speaking about and they get so caught up thinking of ways they are going to tell that person what their own opinion is on the subject at hand that they cease to listen, therefore not understanding the other person’s point of view and opinion.
There are many factors that cause this anomaly.
Human thought patterns occur without us even having any control over them. Conversations with others can conjure up strong emotions and may lead our mind off in other directions rather than focusing on what is being said to us.
Another factor of listening attentively to another person’s words and understanding their point of view is quite simply the importance we place on that subject and also the importance that we place on the person who is speaking. If you don’t think a subject is very important, you’re not going to concentrate your thoughts on it as much as you would if you felt the conversation was personally important to you. People have a tendency to listen more intently to those we love, value or respect.
There are certain medical conditions such as attention deficit disorder or psychopathy that could prevent a human being from intently listening and understanding another person. Attention deficit disorder can pull people’s focus away from the subject at hand simply because we are not interested in the subject or because the person speaking is taking too long to make their point. Psychopathy often renders its sufferers with an inability to care about what someone is saying and the people with this affliction tend to think of their own opinion’s importance and place priority on their own thoughts over other’s opinions.
Also to be considered is the human ego. Everyone has an ego to some degree. An ego causes us to want our opinions to be heard and often seek confirmation of our opinions. The ego can lead to some pretty fierce interruptions during the conversation.
In comparison to when you are driving along the highway, you will see people exhibiting almost all of the traits mentioned above. There they are zipping through traffic, swerving from lane to lane only to get stopped a half mile up the road at the same light you are stopped at moments later twenty cars back. It’s the desire to be first, to be most important, for people to realise that their task is more important and they must get there faster than you.
Listening and understanding can be such an important quality for any person to possess. Stephen R. Covey was quoted as saying this because he understood the importance of this. He wrote many self-help books, books about leadership and how to be successful. In 1985 Covey established Stephen R. Covey and Associates which in 1987 became The “Covey Leadership Centre” which, in 1997, merged with Franklin Quest to form FranklinCovey, a global firm and specialty retailer selling both training and productivity tools to individuals and to organisations. Their mission statement reads: “We enable greatness in people and organisations everywhere”.
It is so vitally important to listen and understand others because without this we can never learn and grow as a person. There are things in our lives of which we have been misguided or biased because of some outside force and without listening to those with an alternative view we can never realise this and learn to look at things through another’s eyes.
It is important to teach children and adult to have this skill set. A great and fun way to accomplish this is through audiobooks. Also if you pick the right books, you are not only learning to listen attentively you are also learning about whatever the subject of the book is at the same time.
Listening and understanding are both skills every child should be taught. They should be told if they do not understand what is being said to never be embarrassed to ask questions, this is how you learn. If the leaders in any country would listen more attentively to their people with an understanding to resolve issues the world would be a much more peaceful, healthy and productive place. Maybe the children of today will realise the importance where our generation and many past have failed.