Why is being a good listener important?

Expert Answers
kateanswers eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Being a good listener can be helpful in many ways. In an educational setting, being a good listener can mean paying attention to a teacher's lesson and gaining a better understanding of the material. Socially, being a good listener helps us to engage with others in meaningful ways. When we are engaging with something like music, film, or nature, being a good listener can help us appreciate the complexity of the subject and become more aware of our surroundings.

Being a good listener doesn't just mean hearing every single sound that is presented to us. It is important that we think about the meaning conveyed and critically assess the information. For example, if your teacher says that Shakespeare was a genius, what is the meaning of this phrase? Does your teacher simply mean that he was very intelligent, or that his writing expressed his intelligence, creativity, and talent? Lots of genius people have contributed interesting and insightful things to the world, so what makes Shakespeare stand out among geniuses?

When we engage with others socially, it's important to "hear" the underlying meanings of a person's expression, because we often use indirect phrases to convey deeper meaning. For example, if a friend said to you, "I'm feeling under the weather," what does this really mean? Are they under some sort of personal rain cloud? Or is it more likely they are using an English turn of phrase to express that they are feeling sick, sad, or tired? Being a good listener can help you understand the real meaning being conveyed and respond appropriately. 

Being a good listener helps you to understand many possibilities and perspectives. It can be helpful during conflict resolution, socialization, and of course, in our studies!