Positive Path Recommended Reading

Listen and Improve Your Communication Skill
By Chris Joscelyne

There is no doubt that "gift of the gab", or the ability to speak clearly, is a valuable skill, however it was not speaking skill, but listening skill that helped me advance as an employee and later as an employer. I learnt very early in my career that good communication requires good listening. Listening is a very powerful and underestimated skill so I spent a lot of time and effort developing good listening practices.

Most people are not naturally good listeners, and folk with the so-called "gift of the gab" tend to be very poor listeners. Many good talkers think that listening is simply waiting for their turn to speak. They can allow the smallest things to distract them and I have found that many are so busy thinking up the next clever thing to say that often they are not comprehending what is being said to them.

Very few people are taught listening skills, although one of my students at the Australian Film Television and Radio School claimed he had been given listening lessons every time his dad had yelled at him: "Shut-up and listen!" That is certainly nothing like the listening lessons I'm talking about.

I have learnt that everyone knows something I don't know . . . my job is to listen long enough to find what that information is, and if it is useful use it. I have learnt how to keep an open mind, how to give the speaker my full attention, how to ask clarifying questions and how to remember what was said.

Since the 1950's sociologists have talked about the "generation gap", the perceived inability for young people to get along with their parents. If the "generation gap" is true, why then is it that grandparents and grandchildren seem to get on so well together? Some cynics suggest that grandparents and grandchildren get on well together because they share a common enemy, but I believe it's because grandparents are mostly good listeners. They have time to listen properly to what their grandchildren are saying, with good eye contact and undivided attention. Many parents fail in this regard because they spend too much time talking and not enough time listening.

Here is some good advice that I was given. When you are talking you learn nothing. When you are listening, the potential for learning is unlimited. I am very grateful that I received this advice because it is a great truth.

Are you a good listener? If you are, you have a valuable skill. If you are not a good listener, it is never too late to start. You will find practical suggestions on how to develop your listening skills in articles featured in the Positive Ideas section of this web site.

About the author: Chris Joscelyne trained as a clinical hypnotherapist under the tutorage of Margaret Tomko. He was taught grief counselling by Mal McKissock, and he learned meditation in a course sponsored by the Department of Health. He developed his personal awareness knowledge with mentors Barbara and Terry Tebo of Lifespring. 

For ten years Chris was a visiting lecturer at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School where he taught personal development, meditation and stress management skills. Now he shares his knowledge with a wider community as a speaker, trainer and coach, teaching people how to live "Life by choice - not by chance".

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