Show You Care - Listen to Understand

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My first experience with listening to understand actually came from reading, as ironic as that may sound. However, I’ve discovered through the years that books are rather good practice for learning how to interact with others. They taught me how to absorb and understand information, how to debate the pros and cons of various points of view, and how to read with emotion and inflection. But best of all, they also indirectly helped teach me about the value of being listened to. 

When I was a child, I used to read all my books aloud from cover to cover — and my family actually listened. They didn't just “put up with” me; instead, they paid attention to me while I read, even if they’d heard it before, and more importantly, they encouraged me to keep reading. Knowing I was being listened to gave me the confidence to continue reading and become comfortable with expressing my opinions. Books taught me how to find my voice, but my family taught me it was okay to use it. And that’s one of the true rewards gained by listening to understand — helping others use their voices and realize they are heard. 

Of course, we also must develop listening skills to help ourselves as well as others. Even though technological advancements such as texting are far more influential and widespread then they were when I was growing up, listening is still, thankfully, a crucial ability to possess in today’s world. 

As a student, I’ve learned knowledge comes in many forms, and you must always be willing to listen to the world around you lest you miss important information — not just something to help you pass that next test, but something that could affect your opinions and beliefs. Additionally, I want to afford others the same courtesy I’d like to be afforded: the offer of a guiding hand, a listening ear. We all undeniably need these things at one point or another in our lives!

In our modern world, it sometimes seems as though our entire social life exists through our phones; I know I’ve been guilty of fiddling with my device when I could have been meeting a friend for lunch or going outside for some fresh air. We should all remember that we live in a world with seven billion other people in it, all of whom have wonderful stories to share and important advice to offer. We need to put down our phones and take a moment to not just hear them, but also listen to them. It was our ability to communicate that helped make us human, and now it's our ability to understand that keeps us human.

Anisha is a homeschooled high school senior, actively involved in serving her community through employing the connections and leadership tools she developed during CSLA. She enjoys travel, and hopes to see the world while pursuing continued community service, writing, computer science and animation.