Which is more important being heard or hearing? If communication is not a one-way street then the latter makes sense.
Now let’s frame the question a little differently “Are you a good listener?
When was the last time you really listened without thinking about what you are going to respond to? Or When was the last time someone really listened to you?
Human psychology is tuned in a way to listen to our inner voice, and our heart, and rarely think of listening to others. Because of this, we would like to talk more and listen less.
But what does a good listener means? I asked this question to a couple of my friends and what I got was a strange stare. That was a surprise for me and I thought of extending the same question to the audience which is outside of my immediate circle. As the number of stares increased, I decided to add one more question to the survey “ What is a bad listener”.
That was a game-changer for the survey suddenly people started answering a lot more for the second question.
Among the answers technology was one of the major culprits. I don’t disagree, it is one of the main culprits. With mobile phones, smartwatches, and other smart devices plus the number of notifications on all these devices, we all are constantly distracted and end up being in the bad listener category.
But what/who is a good listening/listener
It’s not about turning the buddha mode on and holding the peace. It’s quite the opposite you facilitate the clarity of other persons’ thoughts, and through that process, you will solidify your own understanding. During this process, you end up asking the right questions.
I was talking to one of my friends who is a journalist he was saying “Anyone and any interview can be interesting as long as you remain curious and ask the right questions”. After that, I started looking at many of the interviews and realized that most of the interviewers came into the interview with a prejudiced mindset. The same is happening with us in all the meetings/conversations we listen to people with a prejudiced mindset. We categorize them based on the answers and approaches to those categories are predefined in our minds. This makes us bad listeners.
Why is it difficult to become a good listener? It is because our brains can think faster than how we talk and listen. The more you are well-versed in a particular area the chance of getting distracted is very high, we tend to read where the conversation is going towards or what the other person is going to say. There is no mantra or breathing technique for listening, there is only one way, ie listen to the speaker, control your inner noise and make yourself curious. The result will be an interesting conversation.
Same as any other skill listening is a skill that needs constant practice and polishing. If you don’t have the natural ability to listen then you have to work hard. “ practice will make you perfect”. The more people you listen to, the more aspects of humanity you will recognize eventually you will develop better instincts. It will help you in reading all those nonverbal communications. If you look at the great leaders they are not just good speakers but also good listeners and they could read what is not being said.
As humanity progress, this is one of the skills we are losing unknowingly. We all are in our small world which revolves around the smart gadgets we carry. We could do pretty much anything with a touch and a swipe. With all these, we are slowly building a small world of our own where we live and devise our own rules. These hard shells have made us bad listeners. In that small cocoon we are not used to listening instead we dictate how things should work in our world. Suddenly when we are being asked to listen to others it becomes a psychological shock.
Now a days with all the digital devices we always complain about the number of ads that show up on devices and the different ways by which companies pushed their products to us. But we can’t complain about that, because the world has become a group of non-listening dictators, and any company/product that is serving this community is a true reflection of the society. So we are getting what we deserve.
As Gandhiji once said, “be the change you wish to see in the world”. So let’s first break the dictatorship in you and start listening. Keep in mind “Talk less, listen more, and be curious”.