We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say. ~Zeno of Citium
We are living in a world where people feel disconnected from each other. A feeling of alienation is pervading our culture, and there is a deep reason why this is so.
The reason is that we have not yet learned to genuinely communicate.
This is most obvious when observing two people while they are having a conversation with each other. During a conversation, most people don’t truly listen to what the other is saying. Of course, they do hear words but that is very different from listening.
To listen means to understand the meaning that lies behind words. It means to be totally absorbed into what the other is trying to communicate. It means to be focused on the essence of what the other wants to convey through words.
By not being able to listen, we fail to communicate. Naturally, we end up feeling lonely and alienated. When we cannot understand others and others cannot understand us, we feel disconnected from the rest of humanity. When we have nobody with whom we can truly share our thoughts and emotions, we end up being depressed and develop various social phobias.
To feel connected with those around us, we need to start communicating on a deeper level. The basic and most important step to achieve this is by learning how to listen. Only in this way can we have a heartfelt communication where we can truly share with one another.
When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know
. But if you listen, you may learn something new.
Here is a little yet concise guide on how to master the art of listening:
1. Desire to learn
A conversation is always an opportunity to learn something new. Everyone has a great story to tell, and we can learn from anybody. Many times when someone is talking to us we are just pretending to listen—we hear words, we nod our heads, we show that we understand, but in reality we don’t. The reason why this happens is that we are not truly interested to know about another’s story. We are so filled with our inner chatter, our problems and concerns, that we don’t have the mental space that is necessary to allow another’s story enter our lives. To genuinely listen, we need to cultivate the desire to learn, to understand—we need to care for what the other has to say.
2. Keep an open mind
Sometimes our ideologies are blocking new ideas from entering our minds. In addition, our opinions, superstitions, and expectations usually color the meaning of what others are trying to communicate to us through the spoken word. When listening to someone talking to you, make sure to leave your belief systems aside for a while and just keep an open mind.
3. Be receptive
While engaged in a conversation, most of us are continuously interrupting people, not letting others say what they want to say. We are continuously on the lookout for an opportunity to speak about our own story. In this way, however, we do not allow others to express themselves and communicate their thoughts and emotions to us. As a result, we never get to understand them. When having a conversation, make sure not to hurriedly interrupt or respond, and stop trying to solve things out or reach to quick conclusions. Just listen.
4. Be patient
To understand another takes a great deal of patience. Usually we are in such a hurry that we don’t have the time anymore to get together and listen to each other. And even when we do, we do so in such a quick way that we don’t get anything out of it. We never get intimate with one another—we don’t allow ourselves to reach another’s mind, heart and soul. From now on, when you are having a conversation, don’t push it. Give it the time that is needed and just let it flow, allowing yourself to squeeze the juice out of it.
You want to be heard and listened to but do you concentrate on the quality of your message and on giving to others the gift of your own listening? Share your insights by joining the conversation in the comment section bellow
This article was written by Sofo, the creator of theunboundedspirit.com. Sofo enjoys writing on philosophy, art, meditation, and minimalism. His writings focus on how to break free from psychological barriers and attain a peaceful state of mind.