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The Art of Listening

Listening is such a valuable skill to learn and practice. Not just hearing, but actually listening. I honestly admit that I am not the best listener, and I like to talk. I am working on this skill, however, because not listening often leads to uncomfortable and embarrassing situations, especially in social settings.

Last Thursday, I attended the grand opening party for the new RUFSKIN boutique in North Park, located at 3944 30th St. My friend Jason Wimberly and the entire RUFKSIN team were incredible hosts and turned the back warehouse portion of the store and parking lot into something resembling an upscale nightclub for the evening. The place was packed and I met some amazing people. The problem was, I forgot to practice listening. I was chatting with a man I had just met, and we did the standard introductions and greetings ("Hi, I'm Benny!" / "Hi, I'm Joey!"), but I just was not listening. I heard him say his name, but I was not listening. Minutes into our conversation a few of my friends came up to join in. Suddenly, I realized I couldn't remember the name of the man I'd just met . So I introduced him to my friends, hoping he would say his name to them. Once Joey introduced himself to my first friend, I quickly jumped in and introduced him by name to the rest, but it was just so obvious that I had not been listening.

The previous Tuesday, I was at Barry’s Bootcamp, taking a class from my own personal trainer, Evelyne Lambrecht. She is an excellent trainer and does a great job motivating individual clients and groups. I like her! However, I kept finding myself getting into trouble at her back and shoulders class. She would describe workouts and when it was time to do it, she had to keep calling me out in front of the group because I missed key form information. Certainly, the amazing soundtrack she put together was my distraction excuse (she even played the Glee version of “Don’t Stop Believin’”) but really, I just was not listening.

I attend a lot of events and meetings. I interact with a lot of people. Everyone, including me, likes to be acknowledged by name. It makes people feel cared about and important. Pay closer attention the next time someone tells you their name. Names are fairly common. Sure, the name books will list thousands of names, but in general, it is rare to hear a name you have not heard before. John, Cindy, Derek, Ashley, Victor, Stephanie, Ricky – you get the drift. We know these names, and it’s just a matter of placing a name we already know on a new face. Listen as they introduce themselves to you. Look them in the eye. Repeat their name back to them, “Nice to meet you, Scott” and then say it one more time in your head. Trust me, it will save you a lot of embarrassment and even make you appear a much nicer person than you really are!

Practice listening next time you are out at a club or event. I realize that the alcohol may make this a little more difficult, but give it a whirl and be a better person for it!