Listening the greatest gift

We do not have the time to listen. It is seldom a priority, being weighed down by several incidents bombarding us constantly. However unless we give our mind really where it needs most, we will lose out we won't know when.

Listening versus hearing

Listening is a skill that is gained throughout a lifetime, and a practise that needs to be trained since childhood. This, however is a challenge in an age of communication full of cell phones, texts, tweets and emails, causing endless interruption and distraction.
In most cases, human communication borders around casual responses, as we focus on our own selves as we hear the other person talk. However while listening, the spotlight is on the speaker, we put ourselves in his shoes and tune into his wavelength. We understand beyond the audible words of the speaker as we activate all our sense perceptions to get a holistic understanding. It results in a much higher level of engagement.


Benefits of listening

It is one of the best ways to build trust. As we listen attentively in a non judgemental way, it has a healing effect on the human mind.At the workplace, effective listening contributes to fewer errors, less waste of time and improved accuracy.It helps conflicts, broken relationships and stress. Conversely, lack of listening skills can affect marriages, parents and children, teachers and students relationships. In fact, active listening also helps develop good leaders as they have better understanding of the perspective of a team and create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their ideas.


How to listen effectively

Focus on the speaker’s words and feelings and respond with comforting gestures. Help the speaker maintain continuity in the delivery which will make him feel connected to the audience.Maintain eye contact with the speaker and a positive body language that sends indicates a desire to understand and appreciate the speaker. It is not advisable to interrupt while the speaker is speaking, rather bring up any issue for discussion once he has finished speaking.

While responding, have the intent to share your thoughts without trying to impose your thought onto the speaker.This helps the speaker dive deeper into his thoughts without feeling threatened. Do not express any preconceived response you may have. Moments of silence, if any, should not make one feel uncomfortable or be critical, as these help the speaker to formulate his response better. The sense of camaraderie grows much stronger, improving the listener’s relationship with the speaker.

In situations where the speaker is venting out an unpleasant experience, the listener should get genuinely involved in the conversation, and express a deep sense of empathy. It greatly helps to lighten the burden of the speaker.

The solemn pledge

One of the greatest gifts we can give another is a “gift of being heard”. So it is worth taking a pledge to start a listening revolution and change the Age of communication to the “Age of listening” . Let us make listening a norm not just an exception. So,as we start our next conversation with our friend, partner, child or a stranger, let us give them our full attention and listen to the human being behind the words.


About the authors

The article has been contributed by the following students from St. Anthony’s Convent School, Jaigaon, Alipurduar: Jenuska Pradhan, Prakriti Brahmin, Khushi Chowdhary, Eqra Miran, Chaya Kami and Kripa Pariyar.

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