Just Listen

Tayo sat on the visitor’s chair in his hospital room. He was about to be discharged and he was excited. He couldn’t wait to rejoin his football club after being missing in action for four months due to an injury. Though the doctor felt he needed more rest, Tayo managed to convince her that he could get along just fine. After the doctor had examined him for a last time, he was handed over to a nurse who explained how to use his prescription drugs. Tayo nodded vigorously to show he was paying attention, while keeping his eyes on his timepiece because he wanted to watch his teammates train. Later that evening, after being exhausted by watching the training, it was time to take his drugs. At that point, Tayo became a little confused. “Yea, I know this one is two tablets to be taken twice a day; of course it’s written on it,” he said to himself. “But…is it the one I should take after a week of recovery or should I take it immediately?” Just listen.

A lecturer paced back and forth explaining the Agenda Setting Theory of the mass media to his students. After two hours of intensive explanation of how the mass media suggest what people think about, he asked the students, “Any question?” and they chorused, “No.” Thus, the class was concluded. Later that week, Peggy and her friends were revising for a test. One of her friends asked her, “Peggy, can you please explain the Agenda Setting Theory, I didn’t get a word of what that lecturer said.” “I don’t understand it either. I can’t even remember I heard what he said,” Peggy responded. Just listen.

Uche was in a public bus on his way to Ikeja. He was heading for a job interview. He lived in Sango Ota, so he had to leave home pretty early. He could hear the conductor saying something but he wasn’t interested; all he cared about was his last-minute preparation for the interview. After a while, he said, “Conductor, I’m alighting at Ikeja.” He was not prepared for the responses he got from the conductor and almost all the passengers. They all shouted at him, “We passed Ikeja a long time ago”, “Were you sleeping?” “Didn’t you hear the conductor call your bus stop?” “Why didn’t you say didn’t know where you were going?” Uche was stunned and dismayed because he could already picture himself missing his interview. Just listen.

Adamu’s mind was preoccupied. He couldn’t just imagine why Chelsea had to draw that match with Newcastle. He was expecting a clear victory. How on earth would he face his friends now? Suddenly, he heard his name and tried to focus. To his surprise, everyone in the boardroom was staring at him, as if expecting him to say something. The last thing he remembered hearing was “Marketing Strategy” and that was almost 15 minutes ago. How would he explain to the CEO of the company that he hadn’t a clue of what he was expected to respond to? Just listen.

It is very interesting how most people assume listening is a natural action. As a matter of fact, some people become offended anytime they are accused of not listening. However, there is a great difference between hearing and listening. While hearing is a physiological process through which our hearing apparatus pick up signals, listening involves paying attention. For you to communicate effectively, you must first train yourself to listen. Only good listeners become great speakers.

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