Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Today's fortune: January 25, 2011

Today's fortune: You will be rewarded for being a good listener in the next week.

Just like most husbands, my listening skills - or lack thereof - have landed me in hot water more than a few times during the course of my marriage. I think I've slowly gotten better, but still I lapse into moments when I just don't listen.

Fundamentally, men and women are different. Women talk about their feelings and hash things out verbally. Men usually handle issues internally without the need to discuss them.

These are generalizations, of course. And neither is right or wrong. In most instances, it's just the way it is.

And from what I've learned in seven-plus years of marriage, this simple but stark contrast between men and women is the cause of almost every fight, every problem and every crisis in a relationship: a lack of proper communication.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not trying to scapegoat for my brethren by saying we're different. We're wrong when we don't listen, and we should find ways to fix it.

The key is that listening isn't just about listening. A good listener is one who thinks about what they're hearing and verbalizes a thoughtful response. I can listen to my wife all day long. But if I don't validate her by letting her know the words she says have an affect on me, it's all for naught.

It's taken me a long time to learn that, and I still don't have it mastered. But I continue to work at it.

Of course, being a good listener doesn't stop at the edge of a marriage. I've been learning recently how critical listening can be in the workplace.

At the start of my job, I was placed in a rigorous seven-week training program. I sat in a classroom and listened for six of those weeks before I ever made a single widget. Everything we needed to know about the job was told to us, in one form or another, during those six weeks.

Once we were released on our own to the widget factory floor, the questions flooded from our mouths.

I think I'm doing pretty good at work so far. At least my supervisor tells me I am. But I wonder how much better I'd be doing if I was a better listener.

The good news is, my fortune tells my I'll be rewarded for my listening skills in the next week. Hopefully, by next Tuesday, I'll be able to report what exactly that reward is.