I put my hand over my mouth a lot.
I’m an educated extroverted educator (say that three times fast). I have a lot to say and typically am surrounded by students who pay to hear my knowledge and advice. I spend the majority of my days talking.
This is the opposite of when I was a full-time journalist. As a journalist, I spent the majority of my days listening to sources. Sure, I asked questions, but mostly I listened—at least I think I did.
I always considered myself a good interviewer. In retrospect, I wonder if I did an adequate job of listening to sources and really hearing what they said.
Active listening is something I attempt to train student journalists to do. I also attempt to mirror it for them. This means really hearing what my students say. It also means resting my hand over my mouth when I feel the desire to talk before it’s really time.
Most people listen with the goal of responding, but listening is really about silence, Lolly wrote.
I often find myself wanting to respond. I have to remind myself to be silent.
Lolly also reminded her readers that listening means not judging, questioning or attempting to fix.
Listening, and truly understanding, is a difficult skill learned only through active practice. It’s also a skill that’s critical for journalists to master.