The art of listening
SHIWANI GURWARA shares her personal experience of learning to speak less and listen more, and how she is learning to improve the quality of her listening.
In the last few years there have been many times when I have decided that I will learn to talk less and listen more. Being quite a loner, there are long periods of time when I am totally by myself, so somehow I feel I am trying to make up for lost time when I do interact and meet people. However, I recently started my journey towards becoming a Life Coach and there was something I discovered on the way – something that I would like to share.
Why so much talk?
Personally, there seems to be so much to share. I feel that I should put my opinion out there. At a conscious level, the intention for saying stuff is completely altruistic. I feel that what I have to say may help someone else in their life, their thoughts and decisions.
I have come to realize with introspection that this need to talk and share all that I know on a topic comes from a belief that “I know.” It is a belief that tells me that I have the right answers and can positively influence others in some way.
Irrespective of the fact that the talking comes from good intention, it is an arrogant thought to believe that I have any kind of power to change or influence others. I have learnt to respect that every person has their own life, their own individual personality, values, beliefs and circumstances, and they have every right to live it and think about it in their own way. The one thing that helped me achieve this was to look at every human being (and animal) as a soul.
Types of listening
At times we are not listening at all. This is what we call inactive listening. While we may be able to hear the words that are being said, we are not really listening. In such a situation, we find ourselves wandering off or asking the other person what they just said. All of us are guilty of such listening at times – at parties, with children, in conferences etc.
Conversational listening is the most common type of listening. This is when we are talking to a friend, colleague or relative, merely keeping up with what is being discussed. The moment something that is more interesting pops up, we listen more intently to them.
Deep listening is not something that most of us do. This is the kind of listening where you don’t listen just to the words that are being said, but those that are not being said, too. It is listening with all your senses including the sixth sense that can give you insight into the other person.
How to listen well? How to listen well? All of us have our own reasons why we are not able to listen well. While some of us may be plain bored in a situation, others may be preoccupied with something else. If you feel that you need to listen better, ask yourself some of these questions, as I did:
Do I feel that I know how this person will end his sentence and therefore finish it for him or her?
Do I want them to get to the point quickly?
Do I feel I am wasting my time listening to jabber that I already know?
Do I not listen because I disagree with the other person’s point of view and block it out?
Am I just not interested in this person?
Am I so preoccupied with my own life that I do not want to take time out to listen to another?
Am I so arrogant that I feel I know what the other person may want to communicate?
Identifying the barriers that do not allow us to listen well is half the battle won. I did this for myself, and the points I ticked above were too many! The trick, I guess, is to be conscious of these in every conversation, and check yourself when you feel you are getting into any of these modes. I have hope! Practice makes perfect and over time we can replace old habits with new ones. So, all the best if you are someone like me, trying to learn to talk less and listen more.
Article by SHIWANI GURWARA
Illustration by JASMEE RATHOD
April 04, 2020
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