The Discipline of Listening

Most parents don’t listen to their children. But listening to learn and valuing young people’s feelings and ideas is what promotes the ability of parents to effectively communicate with and influence children.

What is “listening to learn”? When you listen to learn, it means you’re not inserting your opinion and not judging what the youngster says while the youngster is speaking. Often, parents have a natural tendency to approve or disapprove of young people’s statements. Parents’ first reaction is to evaluate from their own point of view and then approve or disapprove of what the youngster says. This is listening autobiographically. While the tendency to make evaluations is common in almost all conversations, it is much more intense when feelings are involved. You’ll have much better results with your children if you go beyond just listening and truly listen to learn. 

Here are some interesting quotes that illustrate the value of really listening to others.

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” –Bernard Baruch

“Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery … If you want to influence someone, listen to what he says … When he finishes talking, ask him about any points that you do not understand.” –Joyce Brothers

“The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.” –Fran Lebowitz

“There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves.” –Albert Guinon (1863 – 1923)

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” –Karl Menninger

“Opportunities are often missed because we are broadcasting when we should be listening.” –Author Unknown

“So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.” –Jiddu Krishnamurti