Photo by Christina from Unsplash
In a world where knowledge is valued at the highest premium, people presume that knowledge is obtained and circulated by merely speaking. In this time and age where social media is the most pervasive mode of communication, it has programmed our minds into always being the sender, the speaker, and not the end receiver of the information. As a result, we’re too focused on producing content on the web even without full knowledge or experience about what we’re talking about (because that is how we are rewarded with money and fame).
People have missed the point of the significance of receiving and digesting messages which are possible when listening. Many of us refuse to listen because all we want to do is to keep talking; a tactic we usually do to stroke our ego by thinking we can outsmart people. We choose not to listen because we act like know-it-alls, and listening to someone tell us the same things we’re already knowledgeable of hurts the ears.
When in reality, truly knowing something is when you keep quiet and learn to listen. It’s knowing exactly when to wield the power of silence in the presence of someone talking. The truth is, we may think we know everything there is to know about a particular subject, but every day, we’re proven wrong. Another valuable benefit of listening is the power to support other people. Given the pervasive cyberbullying on the internet, we all can be victims of attacks online.
Being a good listener means understanding the risks and situations that people are facing every day of their lives. Fortunately, our society has evolved into becoming a community that’s more accepting of intellectual discourses on mental health, emotional support, etc. Decades ago, these are issues that have been buried under a long pile of taboos because they’re considered unimportant. These issues were brought to light because someone was compassionate enough to listen.
In reality, especially in our twenties, we need someone to help us get through the daily ordeals of life. We all strive to obtain the tangible accomplishments that supposedly symbolize our happiness and prestige are nothing. When it comes to raw, vulnerable emotions, our trophies and badges can’t wipe our tears away.
Sometimes people try so hard to feel consoled by their recent achievement, but what they’re feeling is much stronger than it has the power to erase that sense of success brought by that winning season. And when that happens, when everything turns into ash, it is a human being, not any artificial thing, that will help us get through it.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BE A GOOD LISTENER?
Listening, per se, has a multitude of uses and benefits in all areas of life — education, business, relationships, and others. By listening, you acquire knowledge from others which broaden your perspective about many situations. It will increase your competency and responsibility to troubleshoot situations, especially the ones you find particularly hard to navigate by yourself.
By listening, you procure the answers to your questions, saving enough time and burden to get them yourself. Learning the art of listening makes you wary and empathetic about other people’s feelings, which displays an amicable interpersonal quality. To be a compassionate listener means to be ready to be vulnerable with someone. To be a compassionate listener means to stay completely in the zone, providing a non-judgmental outlet for his frustrations.
To be a compassionate listener is to understand that everybody is going through something, and we have no right to decide for them or to tell them what to do in a particular situation that you see fit. It’s important to be a good listener because it’s easier for you to build trust with others. A good listener encourages and gives people the freedom to open up with their feelings.
9 TIPS TO BECOME A MORE EFFECTIVE LISTENER:
DON’T LISTEN TO RESPOND
Many people listen for the sole purpose to reply but not to understand. People do not want to be lectured, they want to be heard where there’s no room for judgment. They want someone to look them in the eye, nod continually, ask questions occasionally, and let them be themselves while they cope with the pressure of staying strong. If you keep interrupting the conversation, not only are you going to get the full grasp of the story, but you will also fail to give them the right support. You need to learn how to listen for their benefit, not yours.
GIVE YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION
When someone opens up to you, it’s rude and uncalled for to do something other than paying full attention to the one you’re talking with. Regardless if you know that it’s an important matter, you must give your full attention to the one talking. Nobody likes to express his raw feelings to someone who shows his disinterest and lack of concern for what I have to say.
It’s important to be felt seen, heard, and understood by someone and you can’t do that if you’re multitasking. It also reflects how little you consider listening as a skill and as a responsibility. You think listening to someone is so insignificant that you can easily process what he’s saying while doing other stuff, but that’s where you’re gravely wrong.
OPEN YOUR MIND TO THE POINT OF VIEW OF ANOTHER
It’s very important you practice opening your mind to someone else’s eyes. When listening, sometimes you need to compromise your beliefs for the sake of understanding the other’s responses to a situation. For example, if your friend is thinking of making a huge mistake, don’t be too quick to reprimand or insult her for her choices.
Before you even begin to judge her, try to know where she is speaking from. Try to understand why she thinks this way and what has led her to this lapse of judgment. It’s important to be open to her level of thinking while still holding your ground on what’s right from wrong. The last thing an anxious person needs is a one-sided listener.
DON’T GIVE UNSOLICITED ADVICE
Never think you have the absolute right to dictate another person’s life choices by giving advice. Do it only when she asks for it or when you think he absolutely needs it. Any person would feel insulted when you’re quick to intrude over something that’s none of your business. Don’t deprive her of the learning experience that will come as she figures out things on her own without your input.
Hear her out but also slowly tell her what’s wrong with that decision and how that will dramatically affect her life and everyone around her should she pursue it. Paint her a plausible picture of what her life will look like if she proceeds to go with her plan but do it respectfully. Always remember that you can never control a person’s actions; what she decides to do even after your insightful and thoughtful advice is beyond your control.
LIFT THEIR SELF-ESTEEM
Being a compassionate listener is more than just lending your ears. It’s also about helping others build confidence in themselves and make them want to protect that worth. You can say encouraging words. You can bring up the past ordeals she has conquered and still breathing right now.
Sometimes, what a person needs is someone to tell them that they can do it. Sometimes, life crushes them way past the breaking point that they forget they are strong people and they’ve gone through way worse. Remind them of the times when they helped you or other people and start acknowledging them as their strong versions. When you keep telling her she’s strong, eventually, she will believe it.
BE GENTLE WITH YOUR WORDS AND TONE
Nonverbal communication is as important as verbal communication, and for people not to realize this is the reason many relationships fail. When you listen to someone, it’s incredibly important to be aware of how much of a big deal your reactions and mere facial expressions can be. Your gestures and stutters speak way more than the words that come out of your mouth.
If you hear something that you’re fully against, don’t resort to talking louder and winning the argument because that is not the point. Your friends make their own choices, and imposing your beliefs on him is not the key issue nor is it going to make him want to listen or open up to you. Be sensitive with what you do and as much as possible, stay as objective as you can.
FOCUS ON MAKING THEM SEE THE PURPOSE BEHIND THE STRUGGLE
As a listener, part of your role is to help the aggrieved see the problem where a plausible, effective solution can be attained. However, also keep in mind that finding the solution isn’t the most important benefit that can be taken out of listening to someone. It is also a nice gesture to let them realize the deeper meaning behind the situation. Open up possible scenarios that could have led her to this problem and tell her she was ready for this even when she doesn’t feel like it.
Make her feel important and strong for having experienced this problem as it can really do wonders for her self-esteem. As much as possible, do not encourage them to do something that is going to end badly for her in the long run. Be a smarter, bigger person when it comes to making decisions.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
You need to set boundaries with yourself such as the extent of your help and how it’s offered. You can’t make decisions for someone that she won’t approve of even when you insist that it’s for her own good. You don’t get to take away that freedom to make a choice and face the consequence herself. When someone opens up to you, it’s automatically implied not to tell anyone about it unless she agrees with it (except on special circumstances). You need to respect their choice even when it’s not necessarily what you want them to do. Showing concern to others can be manifested by not overstepping and also not ignoring the clear signs that she needs help.
AVOID COMPARING LIFE EXPERIENCES WITH OTHERS
It’s not a good idea to keep bringing up another person’s decisions and see if it fits his situation. There’s nothing worse than the conversation shifted from you to someone else who is irrelevant to your situation. When people hear similar stories from two different people, they think they can all help solve their problems by letting them follow what the other had done to get out of it.
You may mention it so he may be inspired to do something but you have to remember that they are different people living different lives. Opening up to one person and then hearing someone else’s life story shoved into your throat and how tough and smart he was for getting out of it is not the way to go.
Being a listener is not only an interpersonal skill but also a special and unique gift that only a few people have. They are not many sincere listeners in the world mainly because a lot of people don’t know when to draw the line between speaking and listening. It is an underrated talent to many because they underestimate the remarkable power of knowing how to listen well.
One of the leading causes a person spirals to depression, anxiety, and suicide is having no one to listen to them. They often feel alone and isolated. Their motivation to keep quiet is the fear that they might be a burden to their loved ones as they feel with themselves. Be that person who changes and saves someone’s life through the art of listening. be that person who pulls someone from a deep cave of fear because you have a charitable heart to hear him out.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”Dalai Lama