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This text is taken from Efficient & Flexible Reading (3rd edition) by Kathleen T. McWhorter. Harper Collins Publishers. 1992.

It is not uncommon to hear people complaining that no one listens to them and no one understands them. Such complaints come not only from kids but also from adults. How often is this a vital cause in the failure of personal relationships? How often does it contribute to broken homes? How often do we hear of a married couple who fail to have communication, or of children who feel deserted? It seems something must have gone wrong.

我们时常听到人们抱怨说没有人聆听他们,没有人能理解他们。这样的抱怨不仅出自孩童之口,也出自成人之口。人际关系不和谐,这不往往是个重要原因吗?家庭破裂,不也往往拜其所赐吗?我们不也还常常听说夫妻之间无法交流,孩子感觉被遗弃吗?看来这其中一定出了什么问题。
Experts tend to resort to the term "generation gap" to explain the conflicts between parents and children. Can this term be applied to the cases mentioned above? Though there might be room for hesitation in the adoption of it when "generation" is taken into account, it is far from wrong to borrow the rest in making an analysis. There are bound to be differences, or gaps, in the opinions of two people that give rise to conflicts, and ways to reduce them are by no means easy to be sought, but it is equally true to say that there is bound to be a solution to every problem. Part of the solution to human conflicts is to avoid misunderstanding.

每当父母和孩子之间发生冲突的时候,专家们往往会用"代沟"这一术语来解释。那么这个术语能否用于上面提到的情况呢?当然,如果细究"代"的本义,那么这算不上特别贴切,但是大可借用该术语的其他涵义来分析问题。两个人的观点之所以会引起纷争,肯定因为存在分歧,而要设法减少分歧又谈何容易!但是我们也同样可以说,每个问题肯定都会有办法解决。人际冲突的部分解决办法是避免误解。
Misunderstanding often arises from a lack of communication. Curiously enough, in a modern society where not a few advanced technological means of communication such as the mobile phone and pager have been developed, people are still confronted with this problem. Investigations show that technological inventions do help facilitate human communication. They also show that while there are more opportunities for personal contact, especially through verbal communication, many people still find their listeners do not listen to them. Clearly, something is wrong with their listening ability.

误解常常源于缺乏交流。令人纳闷的是,在现代社会,虽然发明了不少先进的通讯工具,如移动电话和传呼机,但是人们仍然面临这样的问题。研究表明,科技发明确实有助于人与人之间的交流。研究也同样发现,虽然人与人之间接触的机会增加了,特别是言语交流的机会增加了,许多人仍然发现没有人真正聆听他们说话。很显然,人们的聆听能力出了问题。
People may wonder why their listening ability is undesirable when their hearing ability is physically sound. This is a basic mistake we often make. Very often hearing is confused with listening, as they are so closely related. Believing that hearing is a physiological function, which comes to us naturally, we take it for granted that listening does not require much effort. Experts in the field of communications are quick to attack this belief. In their view, listening requires hard work and energy. When people are listening, they have quicker heartbeats and faster blood circulation. Good listening, they think, is not as simple as it might seem.

人们也许会问,为什么听觉没有问题而他们的聆听能力却不如人意呢?这就是我们常犯的错误:因为听觉能力和聆听能力的关系如此紧密,我们经常把两者混淆。我们会认为听觉能力是一种生理功能,是与生俱来的,所以我们想当然地以为聆听不需要付出特别的努力。对于这种观点,交流领域的专家会毫不犹豫地加于指正。在他们看来,聆听既费神又费力。人们聆听时心跳加速,血液循环也会加快。专家认为,认真的聆听并不是我们想象的那么简单。
 
To become a good listener begins with concentration. That looks easy on the surface. In too many cases, we have to listen to other people with physical and mental distractions around us. The ring of the telephone, the slam of a door or other human voices are some of the common physical distractions. The mental distractions in one's own mind, on the other hand, are much more difficult to overcome, for many reasons. A speaker may not be able to keep pace with the working of the listener's mind. The average person's rate of thinking is faster than the average rate of speech. With much free time left at their disposal, the listeners are likely to be carried away by their own thoughts and they soon lose their way. That is where the problem lies: listening too quickly.

要成为好的聆听者首先需要集中注意力。这表面上看起来很简单。在很多情况下,我们听别人说话时,周围都有外界的和心理的干扰,电话铃声、关门声、其他人的声音是一些我们常见的外界干扰。但是心理的干扰更难克服。这里面的原因很多,说话人可能无法跟上听话人思想的速度。常人的思考速度要比说话的平均速度快得多。当听话人有很多自由时间支配的时候,他们就可能会太专注自己的思绪而很快就不知道说话人说到什么地方了。这就是问题的所在:听得太快!
 
Sometimes, the listener tends to skip part of what is being said unconsciously. Since each person has his own range of interests, when the speaker talks about something that is of no personal interest or concern to him, he would "switch off the talking." Though he might nod his head or respond with gestures, his mind is wandering. This automatic control exercises its influence especially when the topic is too boring.

有时候,听话人会下意识地跳过说话人的一些谈话。每个人都有自己的兴趣爱好,如果说话人谈论一些听话人不感兴趣或与听话人无关的事情,听话人就会"关掉谈话"。虽然听话人可能还会点头或用其他肢体语言回应,他的思绪却游移到别的事情上去了。这种自动控制系统的作用在谈话内容太枯燥的时候尤其明显。
 
Other psychological factors also come into play. A person's feeling towards the speaker can affect his listening ability. If he has a poor impression of the speaker, because of his appearance or whatever, it is quite natural that he would not tune in to the words of the speaker.

其他心理因素也同样会起作用。一个人对说话人的印象也会影响他的理解能力,如果听者对说话人的印象不好,比如由于说话人的相貌或某些原因,那他自然就不会去认真聆听说话人说的内容。
 
Verbal communication is a good means for people to understand each other. What has to be borne in mind is that, to ensure that good communication takes place, talking and hearing are just not enough. When we hear people complain that no one listens to them or no one understands them, we should be able to provide an acceptable explanation.

言语交流是人们相互了解的很好方式。但是值得我们注意的是要确保交流的顺利进行,光凭说和听是不够的,当听到有人抱怨没人听他们说话或没人理解他们的时候,我们应该能够给他们一个合理的解释。

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