The art of listening

Have you ever thought about how much we hear but not listen?

Perhaps you can think about this while recalling life-scenes of yourselves asking for or being asked for a repetition of what’s just being said or mentioned –not because of a lack of comprehension skills, but for another reason: “What did you just say?” “Please say that again for me, would you?” “Oh, sorry! I wasn’t paying attention, what?”

In general, when we speak we all want to be listened, even in times when we’re not sure which words to use and/or how are those going to come out from our mouth… yeah, even then, we want (sometimes even enjoy) to know there’s someone there, some receptor awaiting for these; a person who makes us feel pleased just by spending some of his/her time carefully paying attention to our words –to what we have to say- by actually listening.

Now, the second part of the question is: If we hear more than we listen, then who is you listening?

We clearly hear a phone ring, but we barely listen to the ring tone –unless, of course, some extravagant Ricky Martin tone is unfortunately selected by the owner-. Regardless to our job or profession, level of education, cultural background, social position or family role, we have to admit that sometimes we even pretend to be listening when we’re actually not. We even nod our heads, right? (Come on! We all do it). While hearing is nonselective, listening is because it requires concentration. We all go to school and we know we have to listen carefully to the teacher. However, as true as this is, we also know we are unable to maintain this status a hundred percent of the time someone’s in school because there’s also a need to communicate, to talk and express thoughts, opinions, reasonings, and why not even disagreements, too. Throughout this era of technology we can all have access to almost any information we want yet knowledge is a different thing. Knowledge comprises listening, and we all go to school to gain knowledge: students and teachers. Conclusion: listening is a-l-w-a-y-s needed.

Maybe you’re starting to wonder why am I writing about this, or where’s the inspiration coming from. Well, the truth of the matters is that lately this actual fact has called my attention because I’ve noticed it’s widespread among us all: students, teachers, friends, family, colleagues, etcetera. In different ways during life we’re told that communication is a two-way process, however now it seems to me that we talk and talk as if we were afraid of silence… as if we were afraid of being unknown if we talk less… as if we had forgotten there’s someone else in a conversation… as if we were afraid of being tagged “ignorant” if we choose not to make use of words at a certain moment.

Some experts say this discipline of listening actually improves our decision-making. According to Bernard Ferrari, author of “Power Listening: mastering the most critical business skill of all”, good listening is the key to developing fresh insights and ideas that fuel success.

Picture yourselves in a middle of a conversation with some friends, colleagues, classmates, or whoever you want to, and try to think about how much you listen; not hear, but listen. Maybe if we start putting this more into practice we can start evoking better decision-making. Believe me, I’m not trying to pursue a philosophical path by writing about this in here yet I consider this verb (“to listen”) an art. Why? Basically because I truly believe that when it’s naturally practiced, it makes people move toward the listener and unfold themselves, kind of a taste of mind-freedom… leaving space for the arouse and flow of pure creativity.

“It is very simple. You only have to be mindful of two things: listen attentively to others when they are talking, and even more attentively to yourself when you are talking.” -Buddha

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