Listen: How to Make America Even Greater

My research is quoted extensively in a Huffington Post article that calls for Trump supporters and Trump opponents to listen to one another. As the author notes, “We should listen as long as it takes. We should listen as much as it takes. We should work through our justified sense of violated dignity, and practice listening anyway. We must get over ourselves and show the respect we want. We must be the change we want to see – or hear.”

Here is an excerpt:

I define listening as what it takes to make the speaker feel understood and respected. This sounds simple, but it is actually incredibly complicated. Think listening is easy? Check out this list of traits for an effective listener:

Listener is receptive to the speaker and has an (unbiased) open mind
Listener uses nonverbal communication
Listener asks questions to clarify
Listener critically evaluates speaker’s information
Listener indicates to the speaker that the listener understands and is listening
Listener has an unlimited (sufficiently large) amount of time and is available to listen
Listener is patient and/or provides a comfortable, open, and encouraging atmosphere
Listener makes eye contact
Listener concentrates and/or pays attention while listening
Listener understands main ideas
Listener understands speaker’s feelings or emotions
Listener summarizes, restates and/or paraphrases the speaker
Listener is not distracted while listening
Listener gives speaker clear feedback
Listener uses and/or understands the speaker’s language (meaning of speaker’s words)
Listener remembers points (main ideas) and/or details
Listener understands speaker’s tone of voice and nonverbal communication
Listener evaluates and recognizes speaker’s credibility, lies, and/or inconsistencies
Listener listens to the entire message (including every word)
Listener uses exploring (open-ended) questions (questions for additional information)
Listener understands when speaker withholds information (information is unsaid)
Listener enjoys and appreciates listening to the speaker
Listener does not interrupt
Listener is polite and avoids arguments
Listener uses words that are understood
Listener speaks at proper volume
Listener is not tired while listening
Listener gives proper responses with a proper amount of response or feedback
Listener is free from internal distractions such as wandering thoughts
Listener encourages speaker to speak freely
Listener is relaxed and comfortable while listening
Listener understands and takes into account the speakers perspective (personal or cultural) or point of view
Listener expresses his or her own feelings or emotions

Broken down this way, listening involves much more than many of us have ever considered. And, to show how little handle we have on listening, the source of the list above is a combination of two tables in a research article from November 2015 that compares 53 different listening assessments and concludes, among other things, that there is not one listening test out there that measures all these aspects of listening.

(Source: Tables 2 & 4 in Fontana, Peter C., Steven D. Cohen, and Andrew D. Wolvin. “Understanding Listening Competency: A Systematic Review of Research Scales.” The International Journal of Listening. 29.3 (2015): 153, 159. Note: much of the language in the bullets is taken word for word from the article but I added some words and left out the quotations for readability.)

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