OPINION: Listening leads to opportunities


Art is an amazing thing. It is a combination of colors and shapes that comes together to form something utterly beautiful to those who take the time to look at it.

The same goes for listening.

Each day we hear millions of sounds, have dozens of conversations and have the opportunity to learn from those elements; however, this ability we have to listen has become under appreciated, turning many people into bad listeners.

“Good listeners focus on what they are hearing. They pause to think about what they’ve heard before responding. They ask questions because they want to know the answers, not just to keep the conversation going,” Shannon Doyne said in The New York Times article “Are we losing the art of listening?”

Younger generations have become so accustomed to noise that we fear the silence like a child fears the monsters in its closet or under the bed. This fear, combined with the constant noise that surrounds us every day, has put many people in a perpetual state of disinterest.

We lose so many opportunities when we fall victim to this state, opportunities that many fail to recognize are the result of listening.

“It starts at the top — if we as management don’t listen or don’t know how, we can’t tap the full power of the amazing talent in our own organizations. Listening is learning,” Shari Morwood, innovation and creativity consultant of ideas for Go Inc., said in the Harvard Business School article “Has listening become a lost art?”

It is so easy to disregard the ideas and feelings of others in a world where everyone is pressed for time; however, if we don’t take the time to listen in both our professional and personal worlds, then we lose opportunities that could have been so easily obtained by slowing down.

Aside from the professional side of things, being engaged in a conversation and listening to what the other person is saying is an art many are lacking.

“When you feel you are being listened to, then it helps you connect to the other person, but it also helps you hear yourself,” Wendy Zito, owner of Wendy Zito Consulting, said in the Harvard Business School article.

The information a person tells you during a conversation is their gift to you. Without realizing it, however, it seems this gift of information has started being put second for a few more minutes of Netflix or one more text message to a friend.

“We spend roughly 60 percent of our communication time listening, but we’re not very good at it. We retain just 25 percent of what we hear,” Julian Treasure, sound consultant, said during the Ted Talk segment “5 ways to listen better.”

Treasure said the development of other recording devices like writing, audio and video recording has made the premium on accurate and careful listening disappear.

The development of other recording devices has made the importance of paying attention the first time obsolete. Isn’t that sad?

“When I married my wife I promised to her that I would listen to her every day as if for the first time,” Treasure said.

The fast-paced world we live in has put us in this perpetual state of disinterest, but if we do as Treasure does — listen to everything as if it is the first time we are hearing it — we have the chance to learn and experience so much more.

Hi world! I'm Kaitlyn Cotton. I'm a junior studying English with hopes of going to law school one day. I spend my days writing, reading and working for the Collegian. I have had articles published in the Kansas City Star, the Collegian, and most importantly- my parent's refrigerator.