In the last few years there have been many times when I have decided that I will learn to talk less and listen more. Being quite the loner, there are large gaps in time when I am totally by myself and therefore do not get to talk. Somehow, I feel I am trying to make up for lost time when I do interact and meet people.
However, I recently started my journey towards becoming a Life Coach and there was something I discovered on the way – something that I would like to share.
Why So Much Talk?
Personally, for me, there seems to be so much to share. I feel that I should put my opinion out there. At a conscious level, the intentions for saying stuff are completely altruistic. I feel what I know may help someone else in their life and their thoughts and decisions.
I have come to realize with introspection that this need to talk and ‘share’ all that I know in the topic that is being discussed comes from a belief that ‘I know’. It is a belief that tells me that I have the right answers and can positively influence others in some way.
Irrespective of the fact that the talking comes from a good intention, it is an arrogant thought to have. Believing that I have any kind of power to change or influence others is a haughty thought. I have learnt to respect that every person has their own life, their own individual personalities, values, beliefs and circumstances and they have every right to live it and think about it in their own way. The one thing that helped me achieve this was to look at every human being (and animals too) as a soul.
Types of Listening
At times we are not listening at all. This is what we call inactive listening. So, while we may be able to hear the words that are being said, we are not really listening. In such a situation, we may find yourself wandering off or asking the other person what they just said. All of us are guilty of such listening at times – in parties, with children, in conferences and such.
Conversational listening is the most common kind of listening. This is when we are talking to a friend, colleague or relative, merely keeping up with what is being discussed. The moment something that interests us more pops up, we get into a keener sense of listening with them.
Deep listening is not something that most people indulge in. This is the kind of listening where you don’t listen to just the words that are being said but those that are not being said too. It is listening with all your senses including the sixth sense that can give you insight into the other person.
Blocks to Listening Well
All of us have our own reasons as to why we are not able to listen well. While some of us may just be plain bored of a situation, others may be preoccupied with something else. If you feel that you need to listen better, ask yourself some of these questions (as I did):
- Do I feel that I know how this person will end his sentence and therefore finish it for him/her?
- Do I want them to get to the point quickly?
- Do I feel I am wasting my time listening to jabber that I already know?
- Do I not listen because I disagree with the other person’s point of view and block it out?
- Am I just not interested in this person?
- Am I so preoccupied with my own life that I do not want to take time out to listen to another?
- Am I so arrogant that I feel I know what the other person may want to communicate?
Identifying the barrier(s) that does not allow you to listen well habitually, is half the battle won. I did this for myself and the number of points I ticked above were appallingly high for me. The trick, I guess, is to be conscious about these in every conversation that you have and check yourself when you feel you are getting into any of these modes. And hey, I have hope – practice makes perfect and over time one can replace old habits with new ones.
So, best of luck if you are also someone like me trying to learn to talk less and listen more!