Listening: A Vital Dimension of Respect 729.5

The virtue of respectfulness is demonstrated by being courteous, being civil, and treating everyone in a manner that acknowledges and honors their essential human dignity.

An important but often neglected aspect of respectfulness is listening to what others say. Respectful listening is more than hearing. It requires us to consider what’s being said. That’s hard when we’ve heard it before, aren’t interested, or don’t think much of the person talking. It’s even worse when we act like we’re listening but are just waiting for our turn to speak.

The fact is, most of us don’t listen well, certainly not all the time, and especially with those closest to us. Kids are especially adept at tuning out their parents, but parents are equally skilled at ignoring or dismissing as foolish or irrelevant what kids have to say.

The disrespectfulness of not listening is most apparent when others ignore or patronize us (rolling their eyes in a show of impatience or contempt or faking interest with a vacant stare or wandering eyes).

We all want to know that what we say and think matters. But if we want others to care about what we say, we need to care about what they say. Like all the important virtues, we teach respect best by demonstrating it. So listen up! It’ll make people feel better, and you may learn something.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 3

  1. Michael – I heard you for the first time when you spoke to the American Baseball Coaches Convention several years ago – I read your comments about Listening – I see that as the most important change in our young people today – Listening skills are not good at all – I have been teaching and coaching baseball for 44 years – My plan is to read your comments to my classes and my baseball club this coming season – If my students and players get nothing from me other than listening skills, I will have done my job – My father taught my two sisters and myself to listen to him by looking at him and then discuss and repeat what we heard from him – I never want to be looked upon by my students and players as an old man but respect for those talking is so very important for our young people

  2. This is my favorite post thus far. I have preached the importance of listening, how it conveys genuine respect… and that people should endeavor to truly HEAR what others are saying. So many problems could be avoided/prevented if people would just engage in active listening. This is one of the most caring things a person can do. Our actions subconsciously convey our feelings, and if we really care, then we will automatically gravitate toward actively listening and endeavoring to understand the thoughts and feelings of others.

  3. Disrespectful, judgmental attitudes and behaviors can spread like wildfire from one person to the next in a group; and is often promoted as entertainment on tv nowadays. An antidote is respectful listening. It does not catch on as fast, but when people learn the skill, it stays with them and becomes “naturalized” with use.
    I work in a not for profit crisis walk in center in a free standing building. We are often 2 or 3 older women, without security (or maintenance) crews. We also don’t know what the next person’s situation and background will be. In 99% of cases, full focused, non patronizing, respectful listening, starts diffusing fear and anger, as well as pain, enhancing the safety of everyone.
    Mr Josephson’s clear, understandable description of listening is excellent and a delight to read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *