March is International Listening Awareness Month – 15 tips for good listeners


As we observe this month, I have to share a humorous story from the med. line at St. Anne’s. We Sisters eat supper across from the nursing office and often hear the comments and conversations of residents who are in line. One evening, over a year ago, two ladies (both hard of hearing) really gave us cause to chuckle. After several minutes of unsuccessfully trying to get a message across to her comrade, the other lady finally shouted “Do you have trou-ble with your hear-ing?” I guess you kind of had to be there, but we still laugh about it to this day.

Having good hearing definitely has its advantages, but, regardless of one’s auditory acuteness, we can all try to be good listeners. Serving at St. Anne’s, this month is a good reminder to me of how important it is to truly listen to people, to take the time to be attentive. Sometimes, I find that I am busy, yet a person needs my attention. This Listening Awareness Month is another reminder to me to stop (when possible) and really listen to our residents, regardless of my other priorities. Whatever your situation may be, I’d like to encourage making the time and effort to listen to others.

15 key points for good listening: offers some excellent advice.

  1. First, stop talking.
  2. Stop everything you’re doing and listen.
  3. Use “inviting body language” – tell them by your posture that you’re open and listening (uncross your arms, face the person who is speaking, nod, etc.)
  4. Don’t be planning out what you will say next.
  5. Be open-minded and avoid passing judgment on the speaker.
  6. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
  7. Don’t interrupt.
  8. Get clarification for a better understanding of what was said.  An informative article from the Chicago Tribune offers other insights:
  9. Focus on the other person, not on you’re thinking…Absorb the feedback…be sure you are really taking in the information the other person is giving you.

Another helpful sight on being a good listener further suggests that “active listening is blocked by your inward thinking, open out and look at the problems from the other person’s perspective.” Furthermore, “by being a good listener this can also help you become better friends with the person by getting to know more about them.” I think many of our people here can really use a good friend, one who listens. The article offers a cute, but poignant comment: “Remember that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason…you should be listening more than you are talking.” Some more helpful tips they offer are:

  1. Use eye contact to show that you’re interested.
  2. Avoid comparing the person’s experiences to your own.
  3. Absorb what they’re telling you; try to remember what they’re saying.
  4. Show them you were listening: the next time you see the person, follow up with a question about what they told you before.
  5. “Put aside your own needs, and wait patiently for the other person to unfold their thoughts at their own pace and in their own way.”
  6. Avoid saying “I” or “me” a lot. This is a good indicator that you’re focusing more on yourself than on the person’s situation.