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Ron Krumpos

Art of listening

While student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I became friends with Carl Rogers, who was respected as one of the leading psychotherapists of his time. He taught me much about the art of listening.

Dr. Rogers said that when we listen, and people know we are listening, it shows we truly care about them. In turn, they will respond by caring about you. It opens communication and also opens hearts. When we accept them as a person, unconditionally, they will be more kind to you.

We should listen without preconceptions, without anticipation and without judgement if we want others to portray what they truly feel. We listen with all our senses, not just to the words which are said. Some people cannot fully express themselves while speaking, so we must try to see them as they see themselves. We should watch for non-verbal clues as to what they really mean: facial expressions, body movements, etc.

While we should show positive regard for the other person, we should also demonstrate our own positive self-regard. We do not react to their negative comments, verbally or physically, even when we disagree with them. When they do ask for our opinion, however, we should respond with our true thoughts and in specifics rather than generalities. We offer our own perspective as other options rather than as contradictions.

Learning to listen aided me greatly in my later career in sales management. When you know what your clients need and what they want, how their previous experiences have formed their judgement, you can better relate your own (airline or hotel) services to meet their requirements and desires. Showing that you care about them indicates that you will care about the people who they will book with your company. I tried to teach my sales representatives that what the customer says is more important than what they say. Empathy for others can lead to success for them.

Listening might seem quite passive as opposed to speaking. It is actually very active. To paraphrase Bobby Kennedy, "I learn while listening. When I talk I don't learn too much." If you think talking helps to spread your own wisdom, you are not really wise.



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Call of the Wild

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