Whether someone is telling you about their weekend, a story, maybe even venting about a hard time in their life, are you just hearing the words coming out of their mouth or are you actually listening to the substance behind the words? Actually listening to “Learning to Listen” by Peggy Ramin, she stated from the very beginning the mistakes so many people make when it comes to failure to listening. The occasional short response or nod of the head shouldn’t count as a valid response. When taking a deeper look at all the examples she was using, it summed up the way society is today. The first thing that came to my mind was the barrier that technology has built when it comes to having successful, personal conversations. Not to sound too hypocritical, I am guilty of always having my phone with me, however, I do understand the difference between being on it in my free time opposed to allowing it to interfere with social interactions. So many people forget how to genuinely listen to others because they are too busy actively thinking of what their next response will be. How are we, as a society, supposed to have a deep understanding and true concern of the lives of other people, when we can’t take the simple time to understand the meaning behind their story? As a true listener, we should be captivated by their story, to the extent that we feel as if we are experiencing it along side them. I’ve come to the conclusion that the tone of this “This I Believe” speech really upset me because I realized the unfortunate truth behind it. When you think about it, conversations and social interactions are the building blocks to a successful, loving life. There are so many people on this earth with completely different backgrounds, experiences, feelings, and thoughts and it would be a shame to let all of that diversity go to waste strictly because of our inability to care about what someone has to say, more than we care about ourselves. Life is about people, not things. As hard as that may be for some to understand, we weren’t put on this earth to live and experience things alone. I challenge each individual who reads this to take a second and really focus on what they are being told. Even if it may not seem important at the time, the outcome may surprise you. Learn something about someone that you never knew, take an interest in someones thoughts and opinions, be there for someone who may just need a little bit of advice. As Dr. Ralph Nichols stated, “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

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