Are you listening?
These past few years have changed me as a person. I was someone, who could talk a lot and have a conversation with anyone, on any topic. But now, I am unsure about making conversations and try to listen more rather than speak.
In this entire process of learning to listen more and speak less, I came across a lot of specimens who had some distinct qualities that could be neatly categorised into sections. I too have been a part of some categories at one point of time and so can easily identify the symptoms that plague them. They all practice the art of listening at different levels.
You too can easily identify them, they are all around us.
1) The Motor Mouth: This class of people can be identified by the endless talk coming out of their mouth. They have a perpetual verbal diarrhoea and cannot keep from talking on all topics right from their cat to their cousin’s aunt’s nephew’s neighbour. They don’t even take a pause to breathe and can comfortably keep talking
for hours at end. They have an opinion about each and every topic under the sun. You can get tired of just listening to their endless talk. Such people could care less for what others have to say and are very bad listeners. They have never ever listened to anyone else talk and such people can be really annoying. They will cut you mid sentence and start their own topic with total disregard whether other people are interested in their interests. I have never been a part of this category but am sure hubs will have a different opinion.
2) I could care less: These people will have no interest in whatsoever you want to say. They can ignore you totally and have a conversation with someone else sitting next to you a. These people are always in a hurry to move to the next thing and could care less about your opinions and viewpoints. They will rush past from one conversation to another at breakneck speed without taking a pause to listen to anyone. They are the worst people to go to if you have a query or a problem and want them to listen. This category of people will not even pretend to listen to your conversation. Stay far away from such people as they do more harm than help.
3) Lost in Wonderland: The people in this category will be day dreaming and lost in thoughts when you are talking to them. You can identify them by that dazed look in their eyes and the blank expression on their faces. They will be in their own world and will keep saying yes, right, hmmm at regular intervals just too prove that they are listening.
At the end of your conversation they will end up asking you about the same thing about which you spoke just a few minutes back. These people can be infuriating as they just pretend to be listening to you but are actually lost in thoughts. The ‘Lost in wonderland’ kind have a very short attention span and it is better to seek someone else for advice or suggestions.
4) I am just being polite: This category will at least pretend to listen to you albeit out of politeness. Most people you meet for the first time or have just met only a few times, fall in this category. They will have a smile on their face and will try to maintain eye contact when you are speaking, just to be polite. In their head, they are actually trying to think what they want to say and deciding on various topics to keep the conversation flowing. On the other hand they might also be thinking of an excuse to escape from a conversation.
I have been in this category many times and I too have thought of ways to escape from a boring conversation or when one person like ‘The Motor mouth’ has captured a conversation and is going on and on about his own life.
5) Tell me, I am listening: The people in this category are genuinely interested about what you have to say and will listen to you without any distractions. Though these people are a rarity in this world full of distractions and the constant hum of voices, there are a few people who will ACTUALLY listen to you and will not just see your lips moving. Many men will say they fall in this category as they hardly ever speak in front of their wives. Even though they do not speak does not mean they are actually doing active listening.
They will not make their own deductions but will wait for the person to finish what he has to say before they say a word. Such people are rare gems and are a comfort to you in tough times or when you just want someone to listen.
Listening is an art, which is just like other forms of art, that becomes better with practise. It takes a lot of will power and effort to make your mind to concentrate and listen to someone else speak. Our natural instinct is to share our own story, our own problem or our own achievement. One has to keep aside his own stories and just listen with an open mind and a conscious body language.