Me and my sister have our own worlds. We always had our respective friend circles and very little overlap. We talk, crack jokes, and have a lot of fun time. Irrespective of the comfort we have with each other, we seldom share important events of our lives. My mom talks for hours with her sisters, and always says that me and my sister don’t talk as much. My sister’s reply is an epic one, “Amma (Mom), we do not need to talk as often or as much as your sisters talk. Our bonding is stronger than your bonding with your sisters..”. Few months back when I went home, I noticed that my sister was dull. All her friends were getting married, so, she is left with very few with whom she can talk. I started chatting with her, send news articles sometimes or just listen to her complaints on my parents 🙂 She started to open up and share few things with me. I cannot replace all of her friends, but something is better than nothing.
There is a lot of power in communication, well, effective communication. Communication is not just about talking but listening too. I feel listening is more important than talking. I have been craving for someone who can listen and understand my feelings. The main problem I faced is there are many people who are just hearing to what I say. There are many who ask me questions for the sake of asking or for courtesy. For example, someone might ask me regarding my work. If my response is positive, they would say, “good“, if my response is not so positive then it would be, “every where it is like that” :-). Further to this there would be no more discussion about work. This is a very trivial example. For someone who cares, my expression of problem would make them check back on me. It is a rarity to find such people.
Imagine your kid waiting for you to return from work. He/she would have a lot to speak with you about how their day was. Their world is small and all they are asking for is some attention towards them. Unless we listen, we cannot understand how their thoughts are changing. The more we remember about them, the more they feel connected to us. Teeny tiny details of their friends are very important to them. Hearing is not at all sufficient when dealing with kids.
I am constantly finding it difficult to express now a days because I am not sure if the other person is hearing or listening. There is always a thought if they are judging me. Some people do not let me complete my sentence and say, “I understand/know what you are talking about. You don’t have to explain it“. I wonder how they know what my feelings are. Feelings are distinct from person to person. To truly understand what the other person is talking about, we should have the patience to listen.
This habit of interrupting or ignoring what other person has to say is not confined to personal space but also prevalent in professional spaces as well. Undermining what the other engineer has to say is a common phenomena I noticed at work place as well. Sometimes, it feels like plain arrogance which is making them immune to other people’s ideas. It can also be demeaning and demotivate anyone from expressing further.
Listening is an art. It is time consuming to listen but trust me it is a worthy investment. There are a lot of people yearning to be listened. It can be anyone around us. Having a listening ear towards their problems is all they need. Listening requires us to give undivided attention. Listening improves our compassion too. All of us cherish those friends who are there with us through thick and thin, and the only way to achieve that is to listen, listen and listen.
Poor listening usually leads to problems in relationships. If we do not listen, the chances are two people would fall apart and eventually may not feel the need to talk. This can sometimes lead to separation or dissolving of otherwise good relationship. Effective communication is possible only if we listen. Without a self-centred agenda of biases, judgements, advises we would be extending our empathy when we listen.
“It’s not at all hard to understand a person; it’s only hard to listen without bias.”