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The Art of Listening

AuthorTo all you married people out there – have you ever heard these words from your spouse: “You never listen to me?” I have and after 47 years of marriage, I guess you could say I am a slow learner (although I must admit, I am much better now than I was in my early days).

Several years back, my wife and I went on a Marriage Encounter weekend where we were taught the finer points of the 10/10… a process of communication with your spouse by first writing how you feel about a particular topic for 10 minutes followed by reading your spouse’s letter (they were called “love letters” on the weekend) and then discussing each other’s comments for 10 minutes. Like most guys, I was not the best at discussing “feelings”. Back then I would rather discuss the weather, baseball or any other non-committal topics. But over time, I have gotten better at listening and communicating in the feelings area.

Through my years in business, I have read books on active listening and studied sales processes that help discover ways of probing and listening for client’s pains, needs or wants before pitching a product that they might or might not like or may or may not benefit them. How many of you were taught that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason? We should listen twice as much as we speak.

So it was no surprise while driving the other day that my ears perked up when I heard of a topic that was going to air on NPR (National Public Radio) – “The Act of Listening”. I thought, “I have 50 minutes of drive time. Bring it on!”

The program consisted of a series of excerpts from TED Talks that focused on how really listening to strangers, friends and even outer space can be transformative. It shows how we can learn by listening to people and places that are almost never heard or that we were never aware existed can become an act of generosity and a path to discovery.

I feel by being open and completely tuned into what someone is saying and listening to stories like these with my mind, body and soul makes me a better husband, father, friend and account executive. How about you?

Here is a sampling of those talks. Listen to them as time allows.

VideFauxIn 1993, a NPR producer gave tape recorders to two teenagers LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman so they could record a documentary that was eventually named “Ghetto Life 101”. The boys lived in a violent and notorious neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. It was the producer’s hope that by listening to a person’s story that was different than yours would someday build bridges of understanding.
VideFauxAlthough most of us know what outer space looks like, the next segment reviewed a TED Talk by Honor Harger, a sound artist from New Zealand who started listening to the weird and wonderful noises from outer space…even sounds of cosmic rays left over from the Big Bang.
VideFauxWorld famous solo percussionist Evelyn Glennie has won major awards and prizes for her performances and has played with top orchestras. What is unique is that Evelyn has been almost entirely deaf since the age of 12. However, she can still play with incredible precision and sensitivities. The question is – how? On this TED Talk, Evelyn illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums.
VideFauxIn the mid 1980’s, Rev. Jeffrey Brown was a young minister at the First Baptist Church near Boston. The church was a pretty peaceful place but the neighborhood was a different story.
Dave Isay opened the first StoryCorps booth in New York’s Grand Central TerminalVideFaux in 2003 with the intention of creating a quiet place where a person could honor someone who mattered to them by listening to their story.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, other Authors, Optima Graphics or Taylor Corp.

About the Author
Rich Fava is an Account Executive at Optima Graphics.
He has spent his career in the graphics world since earning his Design degree and in Trade Show since the early 90s.


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