The Art of Listening
Language is perhaps the most beautiful aspect of being a human. The ability to convey feelings and ideas, the chance to appreciate what is in somebody’s mind, the gift of inheriting knowledge from the previous generation is all made possible by language. And language is best appreciated by those who have the ability to listen.
Listening is a rare talent born out of selflessness, curiosity, and the desire to be one with another person or with a community.
Listen with a genuine desire to understand. Listen clearly with compassion and curiosity. Listen without biases and judgment. Listen and accept the person in front of you without putting her words in your context, framing, and moral standard. Listen to one’s words, gestures, and feelings. Listen even when you are talking. And most importantly, listen without distraction.
Only then can a true connection be made, a connection that leads to understanding, peace, progress, mutual respect, good relationship, and success. Listening can bring forward many gifts. It is a much-needed talent by today’s disconnected digital world that lives in distractions, mobile apps, and clickbait.
The most beautiful connection is the one between lovers. They can hear each other’s whispers and read each other’s lips. Their hands and bodies are in sync. They can turn away from the world’s most tempting distractions and be lost in each other’s eyes.
Our feelings are not always the same and in our imperfect days, making a connection can be difficult. Nonetheless, it is always worth it.
Pay attention. Be alert. Look at the person in the eye. Pay attention to the person’s actions. Most importantly, become a lover, a friend, a helpful colleague, and generous boss. Listening and connection will come naturally.
When you rise to become a leader, your need to listen grows. You need to listen to a community. To your tribe but also in some extent to your nonbelievers, even if you’re not making the work that matters for them, they might help you make your work better. Just remind yourself to listen 100 times more to the people you seek to lead, your tribe.
Surveys are a great way to know the leanings of the many. A focus group discussion may be done to understand the reasons behind the numbers. Beware trusting the numbers too much though, because bias is in every answer you get. But not trusting the many will also hide important worldviews from your eyes.
Being transparent towards your partners and subordinates increases trust within the organization and creates a culture of community and working towards a common goal.
There are no soft skills. Listening is among the most important hard skills you have for ensuring results and retention. Are you listening to that which matter or are you just busy?