(OMTimes |Sunanda Sharma) Shut Up and Listen! For most of us, talking is a gift of gab; but listening is way too far-fetched. There are many reasons why we may ‘prefer’ to talk instead of listen. So what are the reasons why listening is more important than talking? Let’s first understand what listening is all about. The Oxford Dictionary gives us this definition: to ‘give one’s attention to sound’ is called listening.
If listening was simple, then why would we attend workshops or read books on ‘The Art of Listening,’ or ‘how to enhance your listening skills?’ The fact is 90 percent of people in this world are excellent talkers and only a handful of us are excellent listeners. Believe it or not, it is the five percent rare breed which actually makes it to the top!
Listen to what is conveyed, and not said
Isn’t it amazing how many of us just want to talk and not care about what others are saying? It is a bit like an ‘I know it all’ attitude. We just seem to know everything. Yet, we do not always know what the other person was trying to convey.
Even if a fraction of us are listening, we end up in the category of selective listeners. We only listen to the part that makes sense to us, miss important silent clues, and disregard the rest.
So what is the importance of listening and why is it attributed as the uppermost success factor of extraordinary performers in life? Let’s look into some of the many reasons why success and listening are wingmen for a super flight.
“If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.”
Reason one: receiving another’s viewpoint
When we are talking we are just conveying our point of view. It is like an ego’s fifth-dimensional ride, because our universe is clouded only by our thoughts. But when we are listening we know what we feel about the situation and we are also allowing others to vocalize their thoughts about the universe, per se. So the end result is a rainbow of thoughts, all shining their own light and we have the leverage to open our horizons to many ideas that may never even come to mind.
Reason two: overcoming human thinking
It is human to be thinking that ‘I know what is right in this situation.’ However, this may be far from the truth, because our thinking could be conditioned by a lot of factors. It could be upbringing, the culture, education, community consciousness, peer pressure, family or religious dogmas, etc. So our thoughts are likely to mirror that. What we speak is basically verbalization of these thoughts. So might as well we listen to others. They may add more value and meaning to our side of story; or even better, lead us to see the same things from a different perspective.
Reason three: wisdom & answers to burning questions
The third analogy is that the speaker may have the answers to our most burning questions. So before we pour our wisdom, it is better to listen to their story. Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Atlantic, always rates good listening skills as a powerful indicator of success at work and in life. In fact, the best of leaders in the world speak little and listen more.
Reason four: the learned elder experience
At home, if we listen to our elders they have a lot of wisdom to share. Yet youngsters today have a hard time listening to them. A lot of pitfalls can be averted if we listen to their precious advice. They mean good and have a decades of experience and learning to share.
Reason five: catching those non-verbal cues
The most important aspect of listening is that one can focus on the nonverbal cues, like body language. As they say, ‘your body does all the talking, words are just a bonus.’ Our eyes express a whole lifetime, hands reflect the subconscious verdict, sitting posture reflects how confident we are about ourselves, so on and so forth. Every subtle movement of our body brings about an array of personality aspects.
So being a listener really pays a bonus. A good listener will listen not only to what is being said, but also to what is left unsaid or only partially said. Being a good listener is like a ‘lie detector.’ Talk about personal or professional life, deceptions and lies are all around. An ability to know whom to trust, or not to trust, can be a game changer in the long run.
In conclusion, the pursuit of excellence in communication boils down to listening more and talking less. As the famous saying goes…shut up and listen!