"Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk."
This is a quote given by a very famous American Columnist and journalist. And true to his words, we truly gain insightful wisdom by just doing a little and a very simple task: listening.
We hear what we listen for. There’s a short story that I have read somewhere by an anonymous writer. It’s about a zoologist and his friend. The zoologist and his friend were walking down a busy street. Amid the noise of the horns and shrieking tyres, he exclaimed to his friend, "Can you listen to that sound of a cricket?" The friend was surprised so he looked at the zoologist in bewilderment and asked, "How can you hear a cricket in the middle of all this chaos and confusion?" Without responding to his question, the zoologist took out a coin from his pocket and tossed it into the air. As it clanked on the sidewalk, umpteen heads turned in response. The zoologist simply said to his pal, "We hear what we listen for."
Day after day, in our everyday lives, we miss important information because we do not hear with full consideration. We also misinterpret messages and ideas because of our prepossessions, impulses, and wishes. Minor mistakes in communication can have major impacts. Lack of communication between us and others in our surroundings can't only annihilate job assignments, it can also hurt the sentiments of others and generally lower morale. And since, we are talking about communication, we must understand that communication is always two ways, the sender and the receiver. Or we can simply say, the speaker and the listener. Everyone loves to be listened to. It makes them feel safe, valued, contented and understood. But on the other hand, if they notice that they aren’t listened to, they feel trivial, diminished and inconsequential.
Being a good listener is not that easy actually. But it is one of those vital skills that we must imbibe if we hope to be successful in any sphere of life. Few people among us are too quick to respond and defend ourselves and do not give ample opportunity to listen to others. We prefer to do all the talking while wanting others to always listen to our own opinions. Hence, listening is not just an ability, it is an art.
This art requires effort, willpower, and skill. The art of listening blossoms as we keep on learning to know when to listen as well as how to listen. One of the very huge advantages of being a good listener is inculcating the ability to ask the right questions which in turn not only will encourage in making the right decisions and problem-solving, but also in being polite and considerate towards others that can help us to avoid unnecessary issues and disagreements, increased confidence and enhanced self-esteem.
Hence, we need to acquire the behaviours in which we can inculcate these listening habits in us. There are certain things that we can do to deepen our souls with this skill and with that our growth as a better version of ourselves.
We need to battle the temptation to dominate the conversation. If we come across any situation where, in between a conversation, we feel that we know everything about a subject, we're perhaps an incompetent listener. We need to learn to be respectful to new ideas instead of intolerantly waiting for a chance to barge in with what we think is the final word on the subject.
There is a fine line between being disagreed with and being disrespectful. We might disagree with the people around us but that doesn’t mean that we’ll be disrespectful toward their views. Before we speak, we should ensure that the talker has had a chance to clarify his point.
Then also, a smile is a big weapon when we talk about good listening. We should have a friendly gesture. We can sympathize and empathize if necessary. The speaker should feel that we are interested in the conversation. Hence, we should maintain eye contact. We can express concern and smile appropriately.
We should not focus on our phones during a talk or allow other things to distract us. The attention should be on the words that are being spoken as it will assist us to understand and ask the right questions as asking questions depicts that we are concentrating and following the conversation. A good listener asks questions to gain transparency about a matter before hopping to assumptions.
A mindful determination is essential to become a good listener. One who has gained mastery over his words and knows when to stay silent and when to speak is a man of true knowledge.
As we’ll become improved listeners, we’ll find out an inclination of people towards us to seek our advice and opinions on various problems. This skill will really make us stand out in our professional and personal relationships.