America’s Career Information Network–one of our favorite online resources, sponsored by the US Department of Labor–defines active listening as:
giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Which basically means knowing how to keep quiet and use your full wherewithal to tune-in to what somebody’s saying. This type of acute listening leads to understanding people more truly, and making clearer sense of the world around us. It seems our friends at The Onion aren’t having it, though.
The article “Open-Minded Man Grimly Realizes How Much Life He’s Wasted Listening To Bullsh`t” equates active listening with listening to garbage. And the effect of such receptiveness can amount to hours of listening to:
* grossly uninformed political opinions
* both sides of pointless arguments, and
* parents’ bullsh’t about how important it is to be open-minded.
We laughed out loud! In the end, the news piece concludes with a quotation by “the open-minded man’s” colleague. He says “[my colleague] is such a good listener. A lot of people are closed-minded and self-absorbed, but [he] always makes an effort to hear where I’m coming from. The world could use more people like him.”
Heartened, we agree that the more people exercise their inherent active listening skills, the better the workplace becomes. Hear, hear!