Listening to others is not as easy as we think. It’s one of those things that we do that we think we do excellently, but probably do mediocrely at best. Other actions in this category are sitting, breathing, eating and love-making. Listening is a transformative action. The impact of listening carefully literally has the power to change your life via the power of learning, but also can enhance your relationships, be a source of joy and is a significant step towards enlightenment. On top of that, evidence suggests that listening to pleasant sounds literally changes the pattern of your brain functioning.
What Are We Doing Wrong?
When we think of listening we’re all about using our ears, which is right. Technically. But the world is not as logical as it ought to be and so we need also to listen with our eyes, too. You’re listening with your eyes right now, but we also need to pay attention to body language. Heck, we need to listen with as many senses as you can use in that moment. That means we can’t be listening whilst looking at our phones, watching television or doing the dishes. I’ve heard that some people can multitask, but I do not believe it. To do something well, it must be given your full attention. Listening is not about you, it is about the other. It is about being receptive and seeking understanding. A teacher said, “If you agree with me, you have learned nothing because you have only confirmed what you already believed, and if you disagree with me, you have learned nothing because you have simply denied what I’ve told you.” We must not listen with our ego.
So How To Improve?
Stop talking. You cannot listen and talk at the same time. How much good are you doing with your words? Don’t even hold that really good thing you have to say in your mind until you have politely let the other person finish so you can tell them. Just listen. Practice not talking for just one day and you will notice how difficult it is. Your ego can’t resist giving itself a little massage by saying something kind or funny or powerful or interesting. If you practice listening instead of talking, you give additional value to the people and the world around you and your world becomes richer. Do not just listen to words, but to sounds, rhythms and texture in voices, animal sounds and even mediocre noises such as the washing machine. The world transforms around you and your understanding of it will also receive a significant boost.
Are We Done Yet?
Pretty much. But one last thing. Remember I wrote about “dropping the rope“? If you’re listening, it is very difficult to become involved in an argument. An argument necessarily relies on two or more people talking and more often than not, not listening to each other. There has not been an argument in history in which two people listened to each other until they became angry and stormed out of the room. You don’t need any extra stress in your life, so practice listening and reduce the amount of stress you have and increasing your joy. Thanks for listening.