Philosopher and novelist Andre Gide once opened a lecture by noting, "All this has been said before, but since nobody listened, it must be said again."
How often must messages be repeated because they were not heard in the first place?
It is estimated that the listening efficiency of people working in industry is less than 50 percent, meaning that only about half of the oral messages given in the course of a day's work are fully understood. Dr. Allen, a noted authority on the subject, states that "Listening is hard work and requires increased energy. Your heart speeds up, your blood circulates faster and your temperature increases."
So what makes a good listener? Basically it all begins with concentration. We listen to people through a screen of distractions which can only be removed by determination. Distractions can be physical, such as a door closing or movement around us. Another distraction can involve your range of interests. If you are not interested in what someone is talking about, your mind will wander very quickly.
For some, the mind is working so fast that if someone is talking slowly, the mind thinks it has the answer before the person is finished. As a result we sometimes jump to the wrong conclusion because we have not completely listened. The average rate of speech is about 125 words a minute, whereas the average person thinks at a rate nearly four times faster. Bottom line: Listening is difficult and demands care and effort.