I used to have a colleague. When you get into conversation with him, he doesn’t let you complete any statement you make. As you utter your comments, or make your contributions, midway, he interjects, and helps you complete your statement, even if he doesn’t know how you want to end it.
For diverse reasons, some people talk but never listen. Let me add that, for the fact someone is quiet while you are talking, does not mean that they are good listeners. Some silence is absent mindedness!
In a classroom, whether academic or professional, some people are far away from the four walls of where they are sitting. When it comes to talk, they are experts, but when retention is needed, they are dismal, because their focuses are broken by their inabilities to calm the receptive aspect of their minds, in order for them to retain information that will help them advance in their chosen endeavors.
My little boy likes pictures; he likes to imagine things, and for that, he wants to be an astronaut. So, when he reads a book, and I ask him to recall what he read, rather than tell me the story, he will focus on the characters and pictures in the book. I knew his mentality, and what his passion is, but I was a bit concerned, because information doesn’t come in pictures only; it comes mainly in words. So what I did was to always ask him what was said in the story. I encouraged him to focus, not just on images, but on the statements made by the different characters. And that brought the change I was looking for.
Grasping what was said, makes you a good listener. Some listening aren’t achieved by hearing the audible voice of a speaker, but also, by using our mental ears to comprehend the message and intent of a writer. So, some people can be defective listeners, if they refuse to hear with their minds.
Another reason most people talk more, but listen less is because they prefer being in charge. If you conduct a focus group research, you will observe that, somehow, someone within the group wants to dominate. This person may not allow other people to make meaningful contributions if the moderator does not take charge. People with such attitude hardly learn anything from others; all they know is what they have, and what they already know. No more, no less.
I told the story in a previous article of many years ago when I went for a job interview. Before the interview, we were all made to sit in the conference room of the company. While waiting, there was informal networking among the various candidates. Somehow, I observed that one particular guy had a big mouth and a loud voice. He was busy telling a fellow candidate everything about himself, and all he knew about succeeding in a competitive interview. As he spoke, I listened carefully from a distance, unknown to him. I picked up very vital interview tips from him, and also gained access into how most interviewers and interviewees think. Thanks to him, I added what he knew to what I knew, and went ahead to work for the organization, but he was never hired.
The guy in question spoke incessantly without giving the other person the opportunity to make contributions. Because of his attitude, he was confined to what he knew, thereby denying himself the privilege of learning from the other person. This is where some people find themselves, and it is a sorry state.
Listening is a skill, and it can be acquired by anyone and everyone, if everyone is willing to subdue that appetite to always win the day when it comes to debates and discussions. Being the one that is most heard during meetings and discussions do not mean that you’re the one that makes most sense. A man can continuously and confidently say nonsense, just to be heard. I have discovered that great listeners are great speakers, and they are also very intelligent people. If you don’t know how to listen, you won’t know what to say, so, you’ll say nonsense. If you don’t know what to say, you won’t know what to write, which also makes you write nonsense. If you can’t write, you can’t pass. To pass, talk less, listen more. And if you must talk, please, talk sense!