One of the most important skills of good communication (actually it is a combination of many skills) is listening. Listening and hearing are related but not the same. Active listening is a skill, which must be learned and practiced. To learn to listen well, we must not be talking, and it’s essential to shut off all electronic devices. Active listening is a strategic tool with “irresistible power” as identified by the Harvard Business Review. Good listening is an integral component of storytelling. A good storyteller holds the key to success in many aspects of our lives on professional and personal levels.

We learn from multiple sources, one of the most significant is reading. We assume that as adults we will read silently. Reading aloud is something we generally associate with what we do with young children. However, recent research strongly suggests that reading out loud has some significant benefits in memory retention.

It is recommended that the act of reading aloud can be to an audience of one — ourselves. It seems that reading words aloud enhances memory retention when compared to reading words silently. This suggests that the stronger retention comes from speaking the words, not just reading them silently.

Many studies have been conducted which indicate that saying a word causes what researches call a “production effect,” which means that vocalizing the words into speech assists in encoding the pronounced words into our long term memory. Hearing one’s own voice appears to have a more lasting impact than listening to another read words to us.

Multiple studies conducted by researchers indicate that speaking words aloud appears to form additional brain memory pathways. It seems that activities such as writing or typing words does help somewhat in memory retention, but researchers claim that reading aloud to ourselves is by far the best bet.

This might save those students who underline most everything in their text books with a yellow marker a great deal of unnecessary effort.

My personal belief is that we should learn something new every day. In practicing what I preach, I asked my friend Harry what he thinks about reading aloud. I must point out that Harry is a superb listener. He listens silently while giving me all of his nonverbal attention. Harry is a retired English professor who just turned 102 years old and is wise about many things.

Harry is a firm believer in reading out loud at least one poem to himself daily. I must have appeared somewhat doubtful as to the benefits of reading aloud to myself when he told me this, but Harry continued to explain that by listening to the words uttered by ourselves, we can gain another dimension and insight into what we are reading.

Another benefit is for one adult to read aloud to another. Chloe Angyal. Such sharing can have a calming effect between the reader and the listener and is a bonding experience.

Of course, reading out loud in a library is not a good idea, but maybe we should be more tolerant of the co-worker who is working on a task and talking to theirself.

(Pinter is the founder of Psychological Services Inc., with locations in Sunbury, Bloomsburg and Danville. She writes “Slice of Life” for the first Sunday of each month.)

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