“Linda, Linda Listen”

Marcus Witherspoon ’20, Associate Opinion Editor

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Listening to actually hear what someone has to say versus listening with the intention to reply is one the easiest, yet hardest things to do. On one side, all you have to do is listen to someone and process what they’re saying and let it digest for a second. Then reply. However, on the other hand…it’s not so simple. Sometimes people, myself included, want to interject and reply as soon as they think of a reply. Disregarding whatever the other person was going to say next, I just want to say what I immediately thought of. After reading a great article written by professional NBA player Kyle Korver titled “Privileged,” I reflected on his thoughts about being better active listeners. Although I heard the saying “humans have two ears and one mouth for a reason” before, I never stopped to think about how much I really listened. After reflecting on all the times where I could have or should have listened more, I knew I could do better.

In the past few years of being in college and having more meaningful and fulfilling conversations, I have had many long chats with friends, teachers and colleagues about a myriad of topics. As I try more now than I have before, I am listening more with the intent to learn something new, gain perspective, or just to understand more clearly. I remember when I was a kid my dad would drop me off at school and say, “Learn something and have fun.” Treating each conversation that way, even if it’s a short one, has helped me listen better and be more thoughtful. My attitudes and opinions on topics have been less skewed and some even changed by just appreciating someone’s perspective more and being able to understand it better. 

I believe that people can connect much easier and have better dialogue when both parties have an actual interest in what the other has to say. It is tough though. But taking a step back and evaluating yourself and thinking about how much you actually listen was a good place for me to start. Then actually applying it is where it gets tougher. In a day where screens rule and the speed and quickness of social media dominates, my attention span can be pretty short at times. Committing fully to listening better in conversations definitely goes against my initial urges of half-listening in order to think of and then say my reply quickly. But braking through those moments have been rewarding, and allowed for me to be more reflective, open to gaining new perspectives and thoughtful about what I want to say next.