Whether you realize it or not, your life – like millions of others – began with you listening. Though none of your other senses had yet developed, your life began by you listening to the reassuring sound of our mother's heart beating. Later, during your nine month of confinement, you began to hear a variety of other sounds, sounds from the world outside of Mom's tummy. Voices, music, all kinds of new and exciting sounds. Later yet, though you didn't always appreciate some of the things they said, you listened to the seemingly endless advice your parents gave you as you were growing up.
An apparently inevitable outcome of that growing up process seems to be that you turned off your ability to listen. Well, if not your ability to listen, then certainly to hear what you were being told, to understand the meanings of the thoughts, words and ideas you were presented with every day by friends, family members, teachers, co-workers and, yes, the media.
And in losing your ability to listen perceptively, you lost something essential to the way humans communicate. After all, if you don't listen correctly, you're likely not to hear correctly. Or to understand correctly. Or to respond correctly.
As someone who earns his living by using words – in front of classrooms, on radio and TV, as an author and as an award-winning copywriter – I had no choice but to learn how to listen – and to listen very carefully – to the people who continue to rely on me for the advice they pay for. Over the course of too many years, I discovered one important thing about listening: I learn more when I listen than when I talk.