Is Anybody Listening?

Does anyone listen any more? Has someone ever asked you about your day and you changed up your usual response? I always say “I'm awesome” or “I'm great. How about you?” But there have been times I've admitted, “I'm kinda having a rough day.” About half of the time, the other person responds like an automaton, “That's great.”

That's great? Really? It is great that you're not listening?

When doctors scribble on their notepads are they really listening to the patient?  When teachers ask how a child is doing, are they really listening?

And when a child who always behaves well suddenly acts out – do we hear what their actions are saying?

People speak in all kinds of ways, however, I'm concerned that the fine art of conversation is no longer considered fine or to be cultivated as an art.

People are fascinating. They have incredible stories. But are we so eager to tell our own story that we never listen to theirs?

This past Wednesday, I was at state literary. I struck up a conversation with a parent and it turned out he was the uncle of one of my former students. The former student had won that particular event and their first cousin was competing from a different school. That was the coolest thing! Such a neat connection!

These kinds of connections happen when you speak to people. When you find out their story. When you're friendly.

But listening is more than that. I think most of us still have the ability to listen. However, I'm fully convinced that synchronized listening is rare. People listen when they want to listen and they want you to repeat it back to them when they're ready, even if you've said it multiple times.

Just try to get people to show up on time for an event. You'll have to text them, email them, call them, and then, if you see them and ask if they're coming, they'll often say they have forgotten. RVSP's are neglected. Sometimes text messages go unresponded to as well.

Yet, in today's world, I believe that those who listen to conversations give themselves a head start on excellence. Those who hear the first time can have the benefit of getting started before everyone else. Even better, if you listen and are organized, you can be trusted and move up in organizations rather quickly above the minions who need constant repetition and reminding.

Excellent listening remains the hallmark of an excellent person and, I would add, an engaging conversationalist as well.

This post is day 70 of 80 days of excellence. I've created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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1 comment

Michael June 24, 2020 - 1:40 pm

Awesome post and it’s such a skill that isn’t reinforced today.

Part of communication is listening and some of the best interviewers are IMO the best listeners.

I always follow up with another question when I ask someone about their day and they say great…I’ll then ask how REALLY is your day. I feel canned responses are given because they know most aren’t listening.

So important!

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere