Sunday, February 19, 2012

#7: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

We've all heard the statistics: humans talk at a rate of 125-175 words per minute but think at a rate of 1,000-3,000 words per minute.  YIKES!  It appears that the cards are stacked against our listening abilities and I'm living proof of this fact.

Exhibit A:  I married my husband, Alan, nearly five years ago. We stood together in front of all our wedding guests and Alan led a toast to thank them for being a part of our big day.  At one point, Alan paused while searching for the word to complete his thought. I jumped in and finished his sentence right then and there.  Our guests found this funny because our best man had just completed his toast with a theme of how Alan and I "complete one another's gaps."  No gaps for you, Alan - Marisa to the rescue!

This week's experiment made me remember that story because I realized just how much improvement I could make in the listening arena.  I have a tendency to finish people's sentences.  I do it all the time.  I could chalk it up to my multiple degrees in communication (yes, I like to talk) but I think, more than likely, it's often just impatience on my part.  Or, at least, it may come across as impatience to those on the receiving end of my sentence completions!

This week, I enjoyed lunch with three of my co-workers who also have young children.  We always have fun sharing "war stories" about our kiddos.  This week, I tried to lay low a little bit and listen more than I talked.  At one point, I actually caught myself trying to think of a Tyler story to share that would "fit" the direction of the conversation.  Once again, I was thinking when I should have been listening.

When our lunch was all said and done and I had kept my mouth shut, I learned a valuable lesson.  When I listen, I learn.  I learned practical ideas for projects to keep my two-year old busy.  I also learned that I am not alone in my frustrations surrounding potty training and daycare germs!

People have valuable stories to tell if we just let them take the lead in conversation.  Join me in an endeavor to listen more and, in turn, I'm confident that we'll learn more, too.


  1. Marisa, I so enjoy your posts. I might have to get to know this Dale guy. :) I think this principle is one of the hardest to achieve, but you've given me new incentive to be patient and keep my mouth closed.

  2. Marisa, I think you developed your listening skills (or lack thereof) from observing your old man. I'm trying hard to make change, but it's difficult. I especially identify with your example of thinking ahead instead of just concentrating on listening. Oh yeah - been there, done that! I really like your graphic, too. You are doing a great job with your blog. Keep it up!

  3. Kelly and Dad,
    I think we are definitely related! Listening is tough but I'm finding that it's usually worth the hard work. It's nice to know that we have kindred spirits out there -- thanks for your support!