Relationship skills can be complex. As I stated in the first of this series, there are four skills we can develop that will build personal intelligences – empathy, nonverbal communication, listening, and conflict resolution skills. This post focuses on listening skills.
Listening skill are one of the cornerstones needed to build empathy, learn to manage emotions, and build social competencies. Yet, despite the true need for strong listening skills, most people do not think of it as a taught skill. Children and adults learn good listening through random experiences. As a result, most research in this area shows that the majority of children and adults do not listen attentively for any length of time.
Personally, I think this has become even more true over the last decade, as we become more used to communication in 140 characters or less, texting, and other abbreviated types of activities. Our attention spans dwindle and we become less able to listen – truly listen – to one another. I can only speculate what that will mean in a few decades as we reshape our brains and change our capacity for meaningful communication.
But I digress.
Listening is a learned skill. And as such, there is a lot we can do to enhance a child’s – and our own – listening abilities.
I am fortunate enough to be friends with several very gifted Speech and Language Pathologists. Their job, among the huge array of things they do, is to help improve the listening comprehension skills of children with language processing deficits. Watching them accomplish this has been great for me. Using strategies including listening for the main idea, drawing visual pictures of the spoken words, and learning to sustain auditory attention, I have watched children transform in terms of their listening skills. Their improvement has had the residual effect of improved self-esteem and improved social competencies as well. Their Emotional Intelligence has been raised.
So, what does this have to do with gifted kids and emotional intelligence?
Gifted kids typically have good listening skills. But they are not always good at active or sustained listening. Their minds, often traveling at the speed of light from idea to idea, pull at their attention, making sustained auditory attention challenging at times.
It is important to teach them to slow down, and focus on what they are doing…and only what they are doing. Not the nine million things they may want to do in the next few hours.
I wrote a post on my author’s blog about being in the moment, and focusing 100% of my energy and presence into whatever I am doing at the moment. True, active listening requires the same level of diligence. Giving children the gift of presence, focus and discernment – while also being present for them – is a gift that they will pay forward for the rest of their lives!
What do you think? How much do you guys talk about listening skills?