Do You Listen?
March 5, 2020
“Hey Pramod, we have a PTA to attend at school the day after tomorrow at 11 am”
“Hmm, Ok” I say.
We were driving back home. As we reach home, I ask my wife ” you were saying something about PTA, what was it”
“What do you mean what was it- Did you not listen to what I told you ?” My wife was super exasperated with me.
I have a confession to make. Many times, I am a bad listener. I am conscious of this weakness and I am mindfully and intentionally improving myself.
Why is it important for me to work at being better at listening? Because, listening is key to effective communication and effective communication is key to great relationships and personal influence.
But first, let me lay out 3 big listening problems I have. In fact, I will say most of us have these problems.
- What I was doing with my wife was “Pseudo listening”. I acknowledged by saying “OK” as if I had heard her. I was faking it. Why? My mind was on some other thought I did not want to let it be known.
- When I am bothered or upset about the person speaking , instead of listening to what he or she has to say I am “Judgmentally listening”. Real example- My son says something that I don’t agree with , I get agitated and my mind is in a tizzy. I am listening to respond instead of listening to understand him. I am in the conversation to say what I have to say no matter what he has to say. There is zero empathy.
- I am in a work meeting listening to someone say something when another colleague is repeatedly clicking his pen on a reflex. I am unable to concentrate , I am distracted. I am stuck in a warp of “Selective listening”. I am listening to the clicking of pen instead of what my colleagues have to say.
Since I know that I have a problem and I also know the types of problem I suffer from when it comes to listening, I know how to get better at it.
I have become intentional. Every day in the morning, I resolve to listen more and talk less. Just becoming more intentional has enhanced my awareness. Whenever I find myself drifting when listening to anyone, I am able to catch myself. In fact, nowadays I know if I am distracted or my mind is thinking on some issue, I pull myself back from engaging in any conversation.
I practice active listening. I concentrate with all my senses rather than passively hearing what is being said. I am paying attention to the person speaking. I understand what is being said. I am able to appreciate the other point of view. I am empathetic. As an example- When a baby cries the mother knows if it is crying due to hunger . Mothers are great at active listening.
Anything that can be learnt and developed is a skill. Listening is a skill. I know it because I practise it and I have improved significantly, even though its a work in progress.
The Dalai Lama said something brilliant- ” When you talk you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new”