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“Hey, mom! I have to tell you something important.”
My son rushed into my room, wanting to share his latest achievement in the game of Badminton. He kept talking, and I kept nodding.
“You’re not listening to me. I’m so excited, but you haven’t even looked at me once.” And he walked away, dejectedly, before I could react.
Oops, I was actually not listening—only hearing him say what he did. I continued doing my work, not even looking at him once. I wasn’t listening.
Sound familiar? Have you ever heard someone say, “You’re not listening to me?” Do you know what’s hearing and listening? You might say they’re similar to each other.
Let’s understand what the dictionary says about these two words.
Hear/hɪər/to receive or become conscious of a sound using your ears.
Listen/ˈlɪs.ən/to give attention to someone or something in order to hear him, her, or it.
Sometimes, when communicating with others, we might have felt frustrated when we realized that the other person was not listening to us. The person might have heard us but not our message. Isn’t it frustrating? And isn’t this the case most of the time?
Let’s rewind our lives a bit. I still remember that, as a child, I was only told what to do, but nobody ever listened to what I wanted to do. Each time I tried putting my point forward, they told me, “You’re a child, you don’t know anything, and this is how it happens.” When I wanted to share my feelings or how I felt, nobody listened. It was as if I didn’t exist. So common, right?
I even remember when I was young and in my 20s, someone asked me, “What kind of a person would you like as a life partner?” Besides a big list that I had, I had one essential need, which was the most important.
I always wanted someone who would listen to what I said and, furthermore, listen to my silence too.
Did I ask for the impossible?
People will normally hear us and conclude the conversation with advice, not wanting to listen to us. Why is it so difficult to listen? Actually, there are people out there who do listen. So, what is different that these people do? Why is it that many find it easy to hear but tough to listen? What can we do to be good listeners?
Listening is the foundation of communication.
We can form lifelong relationships with effective conversations that are deep and listened to. When we do not listen, it can lead to misunderstandings. People love to hear only what they want to. But few actually listen to what the speaker says.
Listening is something that came into existence even before writing or reading did. Thousands of years ago, people would communicate through this simple skill, and it really helped in building relationships and connecting souls. Fast forward to now, and we can see people so busy in their own lives that they don’t have the time to listen. People are ready to react even before the other person finishes what he/she is saying.
Do you also find it difficult? Let’s help you understand how easy it is to listen:
1. Be Curious. Just show some genuine interest to understand what is being said. Maybe you can ask a few questions. It’s that simple.
2. Don’t Judge. The person speaking may not be looking for a judgement, but might just want your undivided attention. Give that to the speaker.
3. Don’t Interrupt. Let the person complete whatever he/she is speaking. Speak only when the person is done. Don’t cut the talk and jump into the conversation without hearing it completely.
4. Feel the Conversation. Empathy is so important. Try to feel the conversation and you will end up listening.
Listening is a lifelong skill that takes a bit of effort, patience, and willingness to be soulfully present with the other person. The moment we make the shift from hearing to listening, we will notice some positive effects. Our relationships in different walks of life will transform immensely.
We’ll become better partners, better parents, better children, better friends, better colleagues, and a better version of ourselves as a person.
We have to be able to listen and understand people, and in the process, respect will follow. Just ask yourself a simple question: what do you want? If you want to be listened to, then take the first step and be a good listener. See the magic of meeting the new you and the new relationships around you.
Listening is not automatic and will not happen overnight. It needs practice and intent. But the rewards are immediate and automatic.
Listen; appreciate; connect; build.
Today, my son and I have the most beautiful relationship because we listen to each other. And the best part: we both are able to listen to each other’s silence too.
Isn’t that amazing? I got that person I was looking for. I took the first step of being a good listener and my son followed.
What kind of person are you? Do you hear or do you listen?