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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.

Listening #1000Speak

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. 

39 Thoughts on “Listening with your heart #1000Speak

  1. Indeed, we are slowly becoming only a society of talkers. Listening, just listening and being there in silence for the other person is slowly becoming a lost art, except maybe in our private circles of family and close friends. Maybe it has also something to do with the noises inside of us, one has to have the a bit of silence inside to be in silence for the other person.
    The old-fashioned community spaces are completely gone in our modern urban lifestyle. Social media or rather closed online groups do have the potential to evolve into more than what they are presently used for, but only time will tell whether that happens. Or whether these venues deteriorate further in their uses by creating more social isolation.
    Sometimes I find it strange that being an ‘opinionated’ person is now seen as a good thing 🙂 In my observation it is often the most opinionated folks that are least open to listen to others’ opinions! O well….

    • You make a very valid point about having silence and perhaps peace within to allow the other person the complete opportunity to speak. Yes, the old-fashioned community spaces are gone and even conventional media like phone calls are on the decline. Send an email or WhatsApp message is what most of us do. I don’t know about the opinionated bit because these days everyone has an opinion. 🙂 And they will not hesitate to share it either. Thanks for your comment as always.

  2. Imagine the God created us with two ears and just one tongue but no one understands and we try to use them in inverse ratio:)

  3. Listening is an art alright! There would be a lot more harmony if we all listened more before jumping to conclusions. I agree, even in our MBA batch the quite ones shone when the talking was on a minimum. I think talking is overrated as it it, and make poor listeners.

    • I think in our zeal to talk and articulate we do compromise on listening because perhaps the space is competitive. But often this spills over even in personal domain which is distressing.

  4. It is true that most people listen ,only waiting to butt in.My problem is opposite to this-i know how to listen but i cannot talk-not much at least.

  5. If only .. IF Only is what i would say .. all we do is talk. One of the points that was contantly grilled into us while i was training for the job and I think one of the best thing that happened to me when i joined my job .. We were taught to keep our MOUTH shut while listening to what was being said. In our haste to reply we Miss what is being said.

    This just maybe a coincidence but i am in middle of another course which is 12 weeks full time course (and I know you will SIGH , I do too when i tell you what it is ).. on LISTENING. 🙂 i mean there are other things associated with it all understand that body language etc BUT what I am trying to say is it is an ART to listen and Understand what is being said .. 🙂

    although I am desperately failing in it myself 🙂

    • Wow! Really. I wish we had these courses here in India. Most of the time, I just find people yelling at each other and talking loudly. We do need to actively teach listening. Oh yes, none of us are very good at it. In competitive situations, we get even worse. I wish that we would at least practice it at home and with our near and dear ones. Then slowly perhaps, it will be a part of our behavior. Good luck, Bikram. 🙂

  6. Isn’t it amazing how some people instinctively know when you are not feeling all right… I think with close ones we tend to listen, to observe, maybe subconsciously. Not in case of mothers though… they are simply super humans. Moms know everything. 🙂
    I agree that in current times, very few conversations happen when someone is actually listening, and not trying to advise or reply.

    • Yes, moms are super special. Perhaps they have tuned themselves to be connected to our deepest core. But there are many friends I have been fortunate to have who are similar as well. I guess, it is just a skill that needs to be imbibed if one tries hard enough. Thanks for reading, Rajlakshmi.

  7. Listening is the most important part of communication. While we have been taught about written and oral communication and body language to a certain extent, listening has never featured in our curriculum. So we just dont listen and focus on replying or are plain distracted. The same thing happened with me during MBA GD too. The quieter ones were better than the didnt-let-anyone-else-speakers!

    • Exactly, Shilpa. We have covered a host of stuff but listening has been mentioned in passing. Is it because listening and keeping quiet may be considered not too competitive? Some quieter ones were quite good. There were yet others who really did not speak. 🙂

  8. The ability to absorb what is told seems so rare these days and you have so rightly said it in your post. I have too come across when i said something and had to be patient to repeat it so that it is heard. I also agree to the point atleast in my Bschool there were some who aggressively made a point and never wanted to understand further but they did get noticed as well. sad but competitively true.

    • Exactly, Shweta. Good, articulate speakers get noticed. That is not to say that they are not intelligent. I was one of them. But, I also agree that often the quieter, intelligent ones are not noticed. And that is a shame. Like you said, many good speakers tend to become arrogant and aggressive. Good to see you here.

  9. Nice post Rachna. Listening is a skill that requires patience, empathy and a real interest in knowing the other person’s perspective so that you can put on all hats to arrive at an objective decision.

  10. Deepankar on August 25, 2015 at 6:59 am said:

    Very true & thought provoking…we all need to b more patient, receptive & absorbent to others views. The tendency to showcase one’s own band of knowledge needs to b curbed. As a whole we need to exercise caution during discussions….be more receptive…but it shouldn’t be interpreted as to remain silent.

    • Showcase one’s own knowledge — yes, this seems to be a huge issue nowadays. We are all trying to impress others with how much we know or how sound our views are to even care about listening to another. Sad certainly.

  11. Deep, insightful, yet succinct Rachna.

    In Quiet: The Power of Introverts, author Susan Cain points out that listening is an act only introverts can indulge in. And I think you are one of them, though the term is a misunderstood one.

    I experienced the same feelings as you during the GD while trying to get admission into MBA, and during all other stages in life (except the one with children :P). The importance of listening cannot be emphasized upon enough, yet few people indulge in it. And I think this is partly because this skill demands a sense of self confidence, which unfortunately most people lack today.

    • Thanks a lot, Vishal. Yes, I completely love that book — Quiet. Oh yes, I am an introvert though most people mistake that to be shy which I am not. 🙂

      What I did not share in the post is that I am an articulate public speaker and had sailed through the GDs. I also realize that it gets you instant attention because you can speak well or articulate your thoughts nicely. But, often such speakers tend to become brash or even aggressive; some of them tend to have little substance behind flowery talks. This, of course, I learned by observing and knowing some good speakers. Hence, I feel that speaking out loudly or well does not necessarily mean that you have sound ideas or great knowledge. Perhaps, we need to change our approach to teaching even in schools and certainly to testing skills.

      Your point about self-confidence is thought provoking. Are insecure people more eager to get their point across and in turn less clued in to listen? Makes sense, I’d say.

      Always a pleasure, your comments, Vishal.

      • True Rachna. Let’s hope good sense prevails in decades to come.

        I long for us to return to the days when common sense, virtue and knowledge dominated. This loud world seems so messy (sorry to sound like a pessimist).

  12. So much we can do through listening. My mom is a great example of that. Me? I am developing it now. As an ex-teacher I tend to talk a lot more than is required. Now, I am consciously working on talking less in social gatherings and when friends meet.I hardly talk on social media anyway unless it is related to blogging, so I am mostly a listener there 🙂

    • Oh absolutely, Shy. I have always prided myself in being a good listener. As someone pointed out, empathy is also of core importance along with patience that makes one a good listener.

      I don’t really know how to be a good listener on social media. There are topics that appeal to me, that I read about. I intently listen to every comment on my blog despite it being only the written word. I try to understand dissent to the best of my ability. And I am not possessive of knowledge. Hence, I don’t mind when someone challenges my views.

      You conduct yourself very well on social media. We all can learn from that. Thanks for reading.

  13. Sighhhh! In the last few years, I have actually stopped talking to people for this very reason. Very few actually listen to what you’re saying.

  14. Hi Rachna, this piece is something worth mulling over. I have thought this too and to be fair, noticed the tenancy in myself. I try to listen well and yet often find myself, in my enthusiasm, desperate to say what I want to say, to tell my funny story, to share my experience with whatever.

    I think that truly listening to what another person has to say is a sign of both humility and respect.

    • To be fair, I have noticed it in myself too. We all tend to butt in. Listening intently with patience is something that I have to tell myself constantly. Like you pointed out, sometimes it is because you have something to say in that present context which would just pass. Yes, it is a sign of humility, respect and patience too. Good to see you hear after so long, Colleen. And nice connecting with you again on Facebook. 🙂

  15. How right you are. Listening without judging, without being in a hurry to give our own views is perhaps the hardest thing. We do this without thinking. I’ve caught myself often and stopped midway to allow my friends to have their say. We need to be more mindful I think, and empathetic too, only then can it be a real conversation. Something we all need to remember more.

    • I’ve caught myself too quite often. There are times when I’ve barged in too. Like Colleen said, it could be due to our excitement to share an anecdote or a joke. I guess, it also is quite pointless in a group situation where the rest of the groups cackles on like excited geese. 🙂

  16. It always was a very underrated art! I remember kids from my childhood days who were encouraged and applauded when they talked and talked well, whereas the silent types, including me, were ignored, or were told to try and emulate the chatty ones!
    I also remember being valued as a teen for being a shoulder to cry on for most of my friends! LOL!!
    Thanks so much for joining in, Rachna!! 🙂

  17. Speaking, listening, showing empathy all stems from your personality. We can learn the art, but first we have to change our basics. I am learning the art of listening. Listen, understand and then speak. I hope I will be a better listener in few years. And yes, sometimes silence and gestures are better than words.

  18. Oh this is so true. It hit right home. Also, so many people just expect you to listen, but never do when you are saying something. So much difference between hearing and listening.

  19. Udayashankar on September 10, 2015 at 7:26 pm said:

    Our attentions diverted to the gadget in hand – this is the main reason of this generation where people don’t listen…

    But thinking about myself, I’m a good listener and occasions are very few when I succeed in convincing (includes my failed attempts in SSB)

Do not leave without commenting. I love a good conversation :).

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