Mindful listening

In a world where 33% of the population suffers from loneliness, it is being hailed as the new epidemic. The panacea lies in meaningful communication that can be made possible by active listening.

A deeper understanding of Listening

Listening is a skill for resolving problems and avoid miscommunications, conflicts and disputes. It is a mindful act that requires the brain to interpret the message and also react appropriately. However,listening seems to be a lost art in today’s loud and visually hypersensitive world.It involves understanding, empathising and providing someone with a safe space to open up.

Travelling back in time, we have reference of “Stuti Vidya”, which means ‘learning by listening’. There is evidence of folklore and historical events being carried forward from one generation to the other through listening. As a stark contrast to the present day classroom, the attention span and memory of students is far less; though they may remember and hum lyrics of popular songs with elan. Today relatability plays a key role in the act of listening.

Hindrances to listening

With a multitude of events and visual bombardments inflicted upon us all the time from multiple sources, we are distracted very easily.With the flickering images, the attention span of an individual has greatly reduced leading to a decline in the time we effectively listen to someone. We always tend to remain too engrossed in our thoughts so as to think that no other word deserves greater importance. It is a weird psychological condition, that is a product of the times. In such a situation, the act of listening would risk facing a thought or opinion that conflicts with one’s own. Self being perceived supreme, listening gets deprioritised.

Boons of good listening

Intent listening exposes layers of unexpressed emotions within the speaker. It helps foster empathy, resolve conflicts, and nurture stronger connections with others. It builds trust, deepens friendship, improves our problem solving skills and helps us absorb information better.

How to be a good listener

The golden rule is not to interrupt the speaker. One should allow the speaker to finish speaking before we put forward our ideas. However we should express our interest by using our body language and looking for natural pauses to ask questions. If someone is speaking about personal experiences for emotional support, it is good to ask open-ended questions not just to satisfy our own curiosity but also to help the speaker process it better. If possible, it would be better to have a smaller number of listeners, which can make the interaction more beneficial for each listener.

Be curious while listening. Embracing curiosity not only deepens our understanding, but also fosters a culture of open-mindedness and lifelong learning. Connect with the speaker, forming the bridge that links our experiences with the ideas being shared. We can then understanding how the information relates to our own lives.As we listen, keep the future action in mind that will align to what the speaker has said. Whether it’s implementing a new idea, supporting a cause or simply changing a habit, the power of listening lies in it’s ability to fuel positive change.


About the authors

The article has been contributed by the following participants from St Joseph’s High School, Matigara, Darjeeling: Pooja Saha (teacher), Oyendrila Sarkar, Priyadarshini Ghosh, and Aratrika Tapadar ( students).

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