Listening with Your Words

Jose - Elkridge, Maryland
Entered on January 30, 2007

I believe in listening with your own words. Many, many people have stated that the world would be so much better if we all just learned how to listen to each other. I believe that listening is a two-way street. It is not only the responsibility of the “listener,” but also the responsibility of the “talker.”

I am a professional actor. A great deal of my training has focused on how to deliver lines in order to elicit certain reactions. Yes, I know what you are thinking, “this is manipulation.” It can be … we see this in most professionally prepared words (commercial ads, political speeches, religious sermons, sports teams halftime pep talks, etc.). These are examples of saying words in a certain manner to elicit certain reactions. However, I am not referring to this.

As a child, my mother always would tell me to take the feelings of others into account. Back then, I really did not know what that meant. My siblings or friends would be upset about something I had done or said, and she would simply tell me to remember that they act a certain way or that they feel differently about things than I did.

In later adulthood, I came to realize what my mother was instilling in me. In everyday, personal conversations, too many people simply say what pops into their heads without pausing to take into account how their words may be received. I believe that the reality of conversation lies in the perception of the listener. It does not matter what you meant when you said ‘X’ – if the “listener” heard ‘Y,’ the reality of the situation is that ‘Y’ was communicated, not ‘X.’ Again, this is a two-way street so some of it does fall on the “listener’s” ability to properly understand what they are hearing.

Listening with your own words means that you make it easier for the “listener” to “listen” to what you are saying. Understanding that the manner in which you deliver your words can specifically bring about a positive or negative reaction would be a major accomplishment for everyone. Empathy, sincerity, compassion, would never be misinterpreted as condescension or cynicism. The goal could be to eliminate the concept of “misunderstood” from personal conversation altogether.

If we all would simply take the actual situation and surroundings into account before contributing our words to the conversation, we could possible avoid a great deal of awkward moments and reduce the number of upset people. We would make it easier for our words to be “listened” to. This I believe.