“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” – Bryant H. McGill
Over time I’ve had the chance to hear, listen to and be enlightened by those around me. At times I have been successful at the art of listening, other times I have been rather blatantly ignorant to interject with my common phrase, “Can I tell you something?” There goes my way to take charge of the conversation and lead it my way whether you were making me get attuned to your line of thought or not it may never happen. I’m sure we have all gone through the same experienced such moments. In my case I realized I have some chronic restlessness and anxiety that makes me want to get the conversation going or rather get to have it end. It can be frustrating and I recall a friend felt disrespected by this awhile back.
In our different circles we’ve heard the common saying; “You have two ears and one mouth. Listen more and talk less.” In a way it’s appropriate and needs to be upheld but often than not we lose track and end up talking more than we listen. From the reflections I got to a point of assessing my listening skills over an average day and across different environments and activities. In retrospect, I realized that when I hoped to learn or gain some important information from the conversation, I listened more but in general conversations I either had an opinion, idea or agenda to drive and for that matter I never listened as much as I was keen on hearing the other person. In hearing I mean actively taking in the information in the sense that I would report it back if asked but not really decoding it to get meaning and insight from it. On occasions, I did this later when the conversation had already ended.
Most of us have a common experience even if not the same experiences. A common experience in that we can actively listen or decide not to depending on how much value we put to that conversation. Imagine yourself watching some of those motivational videos and clips hoping to put them into practice in your life. How does that make you feel? I guess you always are keen to absorb every valuable information with the aim of using it to make your life better. What if you could apply the same skill in all your conversations? Well, you’d be able to learn from each of these and the impact would be tremendous for you.
I recently read some article and in it I came across this quote by Alan Alda;
“The difference between listening and pretending to listen is enormous. Real listening is a willingness to let the other change you. When I’m willing to make them change me, something happens between us that’s more important than a pair of dueling monologues.” – Alan Alda, American Actor
Often times we don’t give the communicator a chance to change us, we have a fixed standpoint that we want to hold on to and any new information that comes doesn’t find room to be converted to knowledge to transform us and our lives. I believe we need to listen like our lives depend on it because for sure it does. Everything we know, believe, practice or subscribe to is a consequence of listening.
Life isn’t static and so should be our standpoint about any subject matter. To evolve and transform, you need to learn from others by listening to absorb and comprehend totally what they have to share. By fully listening, you won’t make assumptions about what they are trying to convey and you demonstrate that you value their input.
“Learning is not compulsory… neither is survival.” – W Edwards Deming