I want you to understand how I feel and acknowledge it. Don’t try to solve my problem. Just listen!

The following poem demonstrates the features of this important gift:


When I ask you to listen to me
And you start giving advice
You have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
And you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way
You are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
And you feel you have to do something to solve my problems
You have failed me, strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen
Not talk or do – just hear me.

Advice is cheap.

And I can DO for myself. I’m not helpless.

Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel,
No matter how irrational, then I stop trying to convince you,
And can get about the business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling.

And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.

So please listen and just hear me, and if you want to talk,
Wait a minute for your turn, and I’ll listen to you.


Six steps to becoming a better listener

Climb the LADDER:

L: Look at the person speaking to you

A: Ask questions

D: Don’t interrupt

D: Don’t change the subject

E: Empathize

R: Respond verbally & non-verbally

Most people listen with only 25 percent efficiency. After a 10-minute oral presentation, the average listener hears, receives, comprehends, and retains only 50 percent of the message. Within 48 hours we forget half of that again, so we retain only 25 percent of what we originally heard.

Only 7 percent of communication is conveyed in words alone, with 38 percent in tone of voice and 55 percent by body language. Almost 70 percent of our workday is spent in verbal communication.

Listening is not only physiological but it also is a process of recognizing, interpreting and understanding the message being sent. There is a difference between listening to respond and listening to understand. Effective communication isn’t something that is just acquired, it is a set of practiced skills; skills that can be lost if not practiced and honed on a consistent basis.

Our lack of training is compounded when we start school. The average student spends 50 percent or more of his or her communication time in listening, followed by speaking, reading, and then writing; however, the time spent teaching each subject is exactly reversed.

Since listening is a learned skill, it can be retrained. Hearing is the autonomic or involuntary reaction of the nervous system and senses. Listening is a voluntary act that requires concentration and willingness.

Check out www.listen.org for more interesting factoids on listening.

(Editor’s Note: Ombud’s Insight is a monthly feature on UofL Today.)