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Two Ears, One Mouth!

Let's Practice Listening Attentively!

Gail Oliver Cambridge | March 1, 2022

A Greek philosopher stated, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Do you practice this? I realize I’m not always fully engaged as a listener when I find myself impatient to say my piece and would have to do a mental check to refocus.

The art of listening is a skill, which when mastered, can open doors in a person’s career. If you’re a boss, listening carefully to your employees can improve their morale, which can lead to good work performance and output. If you’re an employee, it can create a better work environment because you feel yourself heard and valued. A win-win situation for all involved.

Active listening comes into play in our personal lives as well. When we interrupt someone or talk over them, the person is left feeling unheard and frustrated. I’m sure we’ve all heard—or uttered—the words, “You’re not listening!” In conversations with others, we can boost our communication skills by remaining silent and impartial as others speak and focusing on their words (not mentally formulating our response).

Then, of course, there are the nonverbal cues, which can be a dead giveaway as to how someone’s truly feeling despite what he or she is saying. Observing body language can help us connect on a deeper level, affording us the opportunity to ask questions to get the other person to open up more about what’s really going on.

A word of caution…we don’t all speak at the same rate. In discussions, my spouse has sometimes told me, “Please allow me the latitude of completion.” This happens when he pauses at length. I believe that he’s finished, but obviously he has not. In such situations, be careful and patient, not trying to finish the sentence of others, as they may need to fully articulate what they want to say and how they want to say it.

We’ve all had that great experience of having conversations flow evenly on both sides even if we don’t agree on the topic. This happens when both parties are fully present. Maintaining eye contact helps us stay engaged, thereby enhancing our connections.

For this Lenten season, I plan on being an active listener in all my interactions with others, reminding myself that I have one mouth and two ears! Perhaps you can join me on this forty-day journey and beyond to reap the enormous benefits of keeping our mouths shut and listening attentively!


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