Naturally, many people like to talk more than they like to listen. To tell you the truth, I used to be one of them. As a matter of fact, I’m still culpable of this somewhat. In all honesty, I still occasionally lose grip of my silence in the middle of some serious conversations. To be sure, I’m not alone in this. Interestingly, the Good Book describes as foolish anyone who is “replying to a matter before he hears it.” Nowadays, I’m constantly conscious of this caution, ‘Before you talk, listen.’
Since humans love to talk, if you can focus on listening, truly listening attentively to the person you’re with, that person will adore you.
Take this for example. When visiting a friend who is ill, there’s a need to listen attentively and sympathetically. Rushing to provide advice or feeling that ‘I can always come up with a solution’ isn’t a good idea. In a hurry to express myself, I might inadvertently blurt out something that could hurt. My ill friend is not necessarily looking for answers but for someone who will listen with an open heart and mind.
Now let me tell you this short personal experience of mine. I used to have a friend who was always in a hurry to offer an advice even before he hears of the matter. Prior to my marriage, I confided in him about a certain quandary I faced: deciding between two ladies I was truly in love with. Sadly, my friend wouldn’t let me be done expressing myself before he cut me short, trivializing my condition with clichés like. “I have had a similar experience. It’s no big deal.” I felt really down, especially considering the fact that my case had some peculiarities. Pronto, I left him and vowed never to share my personal feelings with him again.
Even if you don’t say a thing, if you continue to acknowledge that you’re listening, using eye contact and body language and the occasional “Uh-huh” and “I know”, that person will adore you.
We Just need to resist the temptation to talk about ourselves- even if we get asked questions, deflect or answer quickly and then give that person an immediate opportunity to talk again.
The best way to practice active listening is to practice silence, as difficult as this may be. I love public speaking, private speaking, and, like most humans, talking about myself- so this is a challenge for me. But the few times I’ve done it, it’s been deeply rewarding.
A good listener listens not only with the ears but also with the heart. These days, when someone speaks, I try to understand their feelings. Needless to say, they sense my level of respect—or disrespect—by the way I listen.
Please let me know your own experience.