“When people talk, listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most
people never listen.” -Across the River and into the Trees, 1967
Many people think they’re great listeners. But are they really?
Simply sitting and hearing someone speak is not listening. Consider how often we truly listen, listen without getting distracted, or zoning out, only to realise later we missed something. Evidently, our primary communication obstacle is that we often listen not to understand, but to reply. We become so eager to reply that oftentimes we miss out on the essence of the conversation and veer off the topic. With our minds filled with internal chatter, it’s effortless to become detached from conversations. Isn’t it?
Effective communication is one of the most vital skills in personal and professional relationships. Sadly, the art of listening is often overlooked or undervalued, (like most other forms of art) which can pose significant negative consequences on the quality and longevity of these relationships. That’s why I say, Listening is not just an art, it’s a survival skill. What do we seek in personal relationships? Digging into the crux of the article, I’d say, attention and an ear that wants to listen to us – genuinely. Why? For it builds stronger and more meaningful connections, having a strong foundation empowered with trust. This way, one feels heard, valued, and respected for their thoughts and feelings. Moreover, attentive listening paves the way for enhanced understanding and improved proficiency in addressing challenges. By wholeheartedly embracing another person’s viewpoint, we open ourselves to fresh insights and uncover alternative solutions that were previously unexplored. It’s only when we listen, we discover the immense potential for learning and growing through others’ experiences that somehow enable us to evolve into more well-rounded individuals and professionals.
Professionally, the art of active listening is equally critical, helping the exchange of knowledge and learning, particularly within teams where diverse perspectives are brought to the table. Moreover, it serves as a catalyst for lucid communication, mitigating the risks of misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and conflicts, thus saving valuable time and resources. Being heard of stimulates a culture of inclusivity and diversity but in my opinion, earnestly engaging in attentive listening gives us a profound comprehension and admiration for the distinctive backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives of others. Who doesn’t want a work environment that’s inviting and embraces everyone, is all ears, and where all individuals feel genuinely acknowledged? Everyone yearns for it.
Listening isn’t just art; it’s survival. In a noisy world of self-absorption and distractions, honing our listening skills is paramount. It’s not about merely hearing words; it’s about truly connecting with others, understanding their perspectives, and fostering empathy. A good listener can decipher the unsaid, decode emotions, and build meaningful relationships. It’s a superpower that allows us to navigate complex social dynamics, diffuse conflicts, and inspire change. So, let’s turn up the volume on our ears, silence the chatter in our minds, and embrace the power of attentive listening.
Afterthought: Every great storyteller possesses the trait of being a good listener.
R Vishal Oberoi
CEO & Co-Founder