Most of my reading is via audio books. While most people like to curl up on a comfy seat with a cup of tea or hot chocolate at their side, I am more likely to head down the road with my walking poles and ear buds which are firmly attached to my 5-year-old iPod. Together, my iPod and I have covered many miles and listened to quite a few books. Biographies, history, science, psychology now come in audio versions that can be easily ordered through local public libraries that are stocking up to meet the growing demand. Technology is giving us greater mobility and alternatives.
But that is not why I started to listen to, rather than read books.
It all had to do with my listening skills or rather lack thereof.
There are three styles of learning: Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic. I happen to be the visual type. That means that I like graphs, charts, illustrations, agendas, outlines, notes etc. Reading a book fits into that category. The format is easy – books have pages with letters that “sit still” and behave. Discussions and lectures are rather messy. The topics can move and shift at will.
Have you ever checked whether you are a good listener?
One day, I realized that I needed to hone my listening skills. And that’s when I emptied the music from my iPod and filled it up again with audio books. At first, I spent most of my time backtracking to pick up the thread of the book. I found that my mind would wander. The hardest was listening to Stephen Hawking’s “A Briefer History of Time.” In my opinion, science was always a “reading” type of exercise. But I read it through, although the backtracking would suggest that I read it more than once.
Have my listening skills improved? Absolutely! When someone talks, I listen to the end of the sentence without supplying the finishing word. Better yet, I don’t formulate an answer while the other person is talking. Best of all, I have discovered that words spoken have a rhythm and poetic ring that gives my mind a much needed jolt of energy.