Edward Everett, who spoke before Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, is said to have talked over two hours. Yet it is Lincoln’s speech, of less than 100 words, beginning with “Four score and twenty years ago …” which continues reverberating.
When it comes to the idea more is better, most think in terms of things. More clothes. More houses. More money. More jewels. The orator before Lincoln believed more words were better. But is that true? Is it not better to say what needs to be said and then stop?
As one who prattles, particularly when nervous, upset, or tired, I can talk for a long time without saying much of anything. I don’t need to fill empty physical space, but I need to fill gaps, pauses, or breaks in the conversation with words. Often, I don’t even wait for a gap before jumping in.
The few times I have conversed with an active listener, I felt I was truly heard. I never felt they were just waiting for me to finish so they could jump in. On the contrary, those rare active listeners gave me the time to pause, formulate my thoughts, and articulate them — at my leisure.
That courtesy made me feel special and I would like to share that feeling. Some beginning steps I found to becoming an active listener are:
*Minimizing. external distractions.
*Turning off my inner chatter box.
*Looking at the speaker.
*Mimicking the speaker’s body language, so long they are comfortable with my doing so.
*Periodically saying “um hum”, “really,” “interesting,” or “then what” to confirm I’m listening.
*Letting them completely finish speaking before I start.
*Repeating or paraphrasing what they’ve said.
*Giving them the chance to say more.
*Adding my say if requested or refraining if not.
My goal, should we meet in person, is to actively listen and truly hear what you are saying, thus honoring you.
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