This was my short talk during the first The European Listening and Healthcare Conference, 30 October 2014.
Last year when John and I drove on the Mont Ventoux in France I temporarily lost my speech and hearing ability.
Fortunately, everything recovered, but my hearing ability didn’t return completely. This summer I was diagnosed with Ménière disease… I thought my career as a professional listener would end. Ménière disease means not only aural fullness, dizziness and tinnitus but also hearingloss.
But once gathered forces to continue I discovered that I could understand a lot with my eyes. Listening with your eyes means that you observe the nonverbal behavior of the speaker as he or she is talking. The majority of meaning we derive from any communication encounter is more from the nonverbal communication than verbal communication of the speaker. Why? Because actions speak louder than words.
Imagine that tomorrow you listen with your eyes. One fun way to practice listening with your eyes is to watch an episode of your favorite television program WITH THE SOUND TURNED OFF. Without the sound, you’re forced to rely only on your eyes to “hear” what’s happening on the program. Try it once and see how good you are at listening with your eyes. With some practice, you’ll be more aware and sensitive to the nonverbal behavior, not only on the television program, but in all your daily interactions with others as well. Give it a try and be surprised.
Most often, when engaged in conversation, we just need to be there, in that moment, and listen with our heart, our mind and our eyes.
I guess today I say goodbye to REshape but not to my career as professional listener. In fact today is the start to a better listener. Because deaf people are the best listeners out there!