I am reminded of the GD (group discussions) that I had before my MBA entrance. Each one of us desperately tried to butt in and make our point in a group of 8-10 people. There were times when 2 or 3 people spoke together and the louder one managed to keep talking. The quietest found it hard to utter a word. This counted towards your final score for getting into MBA. Later once I began my MBA, every single person got an opportunity to make a presentation and talk. Some of the quietest ones surprised the most. Flawed process or flawed thinking that encourages us to talk and talk and not really listen to any feedback or comments? Do you continue to grow if you follow this mode? I feel, not.
From very early on in this competitive life, it is ingrained in us to grab the spotlight, to put our point of view across forcefully and confidently. Now with social media, every time you share a controversial piece, opinions flow like water. No one listens or mulls over another’s viewpoint; just a constant battle to have the last say. There is an attempt to shove your opinion down others’ throats. In real life as well, we have stopped listening; we hear things, often in a very distracted manner; our attentions diverted to the gadget in hand or to a racing mind that has already moved on. Listening is actually a very crucial skill. Often, when we open our minds, we can hear more than the words can say. The tone, the facial expressions, the unsaid speak very loudly. But we are in such a rush, to interject, to show that we have understood, to offer a solution that we don’t listen carefully or completely.
There have been experiences when I have sat with a distraught friend; where they talked and I listened. Sometimes, we don’t need to say anything. Just a comforting silence and a squeeze of hands or a hug says louder than any words can. Sometimes, all we want is to be heard without judgment. Just to be heard. To know that someone cares! Are we actually looking for advice that the other person just jumps in and offers? Perhaps it is done because we wish to be problem solvers or that we wish to alleviate their pain or just wish to move on to comfortable topics.
At home, I find my children being well attuned to this skill (when they want to). It is another story that most times, what I say falls on deaf ears. But at other times, they can gauge my moods. They know that something is not so right even when I try to tell them otherwise. Isn’t that how we are with the ones we love? We instinctively know that something is not in place with the other person. There is a friend of mine who called me a few days ago asking if everything was fine. She just felt that something was not alright. Indeed, it was not. And the words gushed forth from my mouth. Was it telepathy? I don’t know. She is not on social media so she is not privy to my updates. She and I only chat through phone calls, the good old-fashioned way. She just listened for the longest time, offered me no advice but I felt so uplifted, so positive after that chat.
I guess, we all need to push ourselves to listen more often. Having the last word every time is not important. Silence is important; it teaches us a lot. Listen with your heart and you will feel more positive, more tuned in and better equipped to cut through the needless noise in your life.
Do you have any listening experiences to share?
You can read all the fantastic posts on #1000Speak by clicking the link. Bloggers from around the world have been writing about Compassion and its various facets. The theme for August is Listening.