Is listening no longer a virtue? Three recent experiences lead me to believe that this subtle skill has faded to black. During an early morning caffeinated wake-up and a Sunday brunch, my interest in this topic piqued as an apologetic retail clerk fumbled with my order. One problem troubling our culture is that it is no longer "hip" for servers to actually carry a simple pen and paper when taking an order. Instead, they choose to vaguely recall whether or not you wanted the soup or salad and that ketchup on the side or on the bun, - but I digress.
Is the problem merely that time-saving technologies, such as email and text messaging, have stripped away the ability to actually talk and listen to one another? Why is it that an associate would rather take five minutes (typing with his thumbs) to send a message that could have been settled with a 30-second phone call?
Since we were kids, we’ve been taught four core concepts: listen, stay safe, be polite, but most importantly, learn about people and our surroundings. The discomfort in everyday conversation is becoming much too apparent. What's wrong with getting to know Debbie as a vice president with a small family of four rather than firstname.lastname@example.org? Social skills and basic conversation have turned into language butchering, email jargon. C U L8R? Isn’t that a license plate?
Listening is the one skill that can teach you more about your surroundings, your coworkers; it can teach you more about yourself than any other sense. Sight can give you a few details about an individual's exterior and smell can sometimes give you more than you care to know, but developing and honing listening skills can make life and social interaction enjoyable.
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