Listening is often said to be the missing part of a communication. For many people the ability to listen is not developed as much as the ability to speak. Many listen with the intent to reply not to understand as Steven Covey said. People are more interested to speak than to listen.
Why do we not listen actively? We listen only to the words that are being said. We don’t learn to listen behind the words that are being said. In Chinese language to listen is written in 3 symbols – ear, eye and heart. If any Chinese speaking reader here, please correct me if I am wrong. An active listening uses ear, eyes and also heart. An active listening is giving an undivided attention to the person who is speaking. You are completely present, physically and also mentally. Only then you can listen to the message that is not being said, what is behind the words.
In a survey words contribute 7%, intonation 38% and body language 55%. More messages are not expressed through words, or they can not be expressed through words. Words are not enough to express the feelings. Feeling can be so deep, while words are limited.
One needs to use the eyes to obseve the body language of the speaker, and the heart to catch the feeling. Ears are not enough. Many use the ears more than the heart and eyes. They are more ready to listen to the words which contributes only 7% to listening. This is why misunderstanding or miscommunication often happen.
To listen through your heart you need silence. It is the mind that needs to be silent, then the heart will follow. Many find it very difficult to make their minds silent. It takes time to practise. The minds have been constantly so busy. Start listening to your own mind, know exactly what you are thinking, just observe what is happening inside your head. be a detached observer, not a judgemental observer. You will notice the mind starts becoming silent. And when your mind is silent, calm and peaceful. Your heart opens for others. You are ready to listen.
One of the skills or competencies that is needed in the work place or in a relationship is communication skill. Many people think communication skill is the ability to speak. In fact communication skill requires two abilities, speaking and also listening. That is why many have learned how to speak well. They attend speaking courses. But I never heard any listening courses. There are many talk shows but no listen shows. Many create podcasts or YouTube channels for them to communicate through speaking. Surely they need someone to listen and watch.
The ability to listen is often the missing one in communication. How often misunderstanding takes place due to this? This misunderstanding is due to lack of the ability to listen. The message is not properly understood. Communication is always in two ways. If someone is speaking and there is no one around, then no one is listening. It is not called a communication. No message reaches anyone (the listener).
Interestingly we have two ears, two eyes and one mouth. We should listen twice as much as we speak. Let’s start listening. I believe that all those good speakers were once good listeners. All good communicators were once good listeners.
You might have heard an advice not to see the defect but see the speciality of everyone. To see mean to observe or to put your attention and energy to the object of your observation. Attention is the energy of the mind. Energy in us is limited. So we have to be careful in using it. Don’t waste the energy. Use it in a worth while way. To see the defect in others is to drain the energy. Usually after seeing, then followed by thinking and talking and reacting. In the form of thought, words and then action. In this three forms we are using our energy.
Very recently I was in a short course on productivity. It covered how to become productive with our time, attention, decision and energy. The facilitator was delivering the topic really well. For me to be a good facilitator is when he or she enables the participants to understand the topic being delivered easily. To make something complicated easier to be understood. Something theoritical practical. After the session I came up to him to give him a compliment. I said “You are such a passionate trainer.” This words are words of appreciation. When you give a compliment from your heart in fact you are giving very positive energy. Make it a habit. See the goodness in others and let them know. This will empower others. You never know how much your words will impact on that person positively. Always believe that whatever you are doing good will come back to you. Keep doing it to everyone around you. Keep empowering.
A friend told me that she had decided to divorce her husband. She has talked about it with him. When she shared it to me, I could feel that she was feeling so relieved. She said that she was amazed by herself for being very calm while talking to him about this separation, no emotion was involved. She said that she had been listening to the ‘real I’ a lot and it helped her in controlling her emotion. I was happy listening this from her, not for the divorce, but for the way she handled herself.
She said to me that she did not love him anymore, so she wanted to end the marriage. They had gone through so much conflict. It was not healthy for both of them and also for their children. But she said that her husband still loved her. I replied ‘Wait, is it a real love?’ True love never hurts. If it hurts, it is not a true love.
This short conversation reminded me to a book written by Echart Tolla. I read the book long time ago. It is said in the book that ‘I love you’ often means ‘I need you’. So it is a self-centered love. Because it is self-centered, so expectation is involved – there is dependency and possessiveness. Of course it is not true love. True love is liberating. True love is without any expectation. True love is not self-centered.
She paused for a moment and finally said “Yes, he loves himself.”
A colleague was sharing to me how she felt after reading a horoscope based on the Chinese calendar. The horoscope told her about something that made her feel a bit scary. She might not believe the horoscope. She might have read many times the same horoscope, probably every year. But she said to me that she kept thinking about what it said by the horoscope that something bad will happen to her this year. It says that she would lose some money or an accident would happen to her. The more she thinks about it, the more she becomes worried. Every time she thought about it, she convinced herself that it might be true. Then it becomes a false belief. She convinces this false belief to herself through a self talk.
How to cut this false belief? Be aware this self talk. What are you telling yourself most? Take control your self talk if you do not want any opinion from other people to control you. Realize that everything that has happened to us and whatever is going to happen to us is in fact predestined. Nothing happens in this world is a coincidence. Everything will just happen as it has to happen. There will be no mistake in life. Remind your self again and again to this. The more you remind yourself the more you will be able to convince yourself. When you are convinced, it will become your belief. And the false belief will fall away. You will be more ready to face your life ahead.
I remember I was sharing a taxi with four people on our way back from a program. The program was a big one, attended by many people from different countries with variety of languages. We could not know everyone in the program, because it was too big. The program was organized so well. Everything was very well-organized, including our transport. When I booked the taxi for my return journey at the transport department, I didn’t know whom I would share the taxi with.
An old lady was sitting in the front row next to the driver, and in the middle row there were one young man from Russia and two middle-aged men from France. I was sitting at the back row with our luggages. The space was very small and the luggages were piled up. It was a 4 hour journey. How would you enjoy a 4 hour trip with people you don’t know? What I did was listening music. Music really helps to enjoy the trip. I am always ready with some music in my smartphone and an earphone for a trip. I think music has the power to change our mood into positive one, quite instantly. Some times I had a conversation with the passengers who were sitting in the middle row. We talked about the weather, the journey to our home countries, our flight etc.. A general topic.
We stopped for a toilet in the middle of the trip. Everybody got down from the taxi. There, when I had the opportunity to talk to the old lady who was sitting in the front row. I was so amazed about her. She was 80 years old, traveling alone. She is from Colombia. She didn’t speak English, but I think she could understand a little. She could respond simple questions like ‘Where are you from? What time is your flight?’ We talked and shared on how much we enjoyed the program we just attended. I talked mostly. While talking to her I could see the light on her eyes, shining very brightly. The happiness inside was reflected on her face through the eyes. it was just so obvious.
I said to myself “This is what is called inner beauty.” The beauty of the soul that is coming from the heart of an old lady. The more permanent beauty. Not the beauty because of the cosmetics. Cosmetics only brings beauty on the skin, not the heart.
I still remember the lady’s name was Gloria Carmago.
My friend wanted to introduce me to her long time good friend. It was interesting, she said : “I am sure you will like her. She is a feminist.” I said to her that I was not a feminist. And she quickly clarified : “No,no, I mean that you might get an inspiration to write through meeting and talking with her.”
I think she is right. I get an inspiration to write in my journal book or in this blog mostly after meeting and talking with people. So I always love to meet people – new people, long time contacts or strangers. It is always interesting to talk with them. I believe that each one has hidden amazing things that we do not know until they are talking with us.
I always remind myself that anyone I meet always has something I could learn from. And I never miss the lesson.
When someone asked me how to start writing, I said : “Just write what you see, what you hear and what you feel.” You don’t need to be very creative to start writing. And you don’t need to have a talent to do it either. You only need an intention. Because writing is a skill, so everyone can develop this skill through practice. Just like speaking. Each one of us learned to speak when we were very small and we can speak now, we can express our thought and feeling through speaking. In the same way, writing is also a skill, it is also expressing thoughts and feelings. Everybody can express one’s thought and one’s feeling through writing.
You do not need to worry when you express your thought and feeling. Remember that you are writing for yourself. You are not writing for someone else to read. Liberate yourself from any worry or fear of being commented by anyone, being judged by anyone. In fact no one can criticize what you express, because your thoughts and feelings are always personal and nothing is wrong. To write them down is to be honest to the self. When you are honest to yourself, you will feel very comfortable with yourself. Start writing and start expressing what is inside you.
The mind keeps thinking all the time. It never stops. When you express it in writing, the mind slows down its speed. It becomes much lighter, not heavy.
I remember when I started sharing some thoughts through short journals via WhatsApp to friends and contacts, very soon I started hearing from them a question why I did not start writing a book or creating a blog. This blog was not created at that time. Some said “Someone may copy your idea (story) if you just share it freely.” I thought what I had been writing and sharing to people were more about my personal experience. How could people copy a personal experience? I think it is not possible. In the beginning very often some people asked me if they could share it to their families and contacts or not. And I always said “Sure, you can.” I let them share it in whatever way the wanted to share it. My mission was to share it to as many people as possible. And my mission stays the same until this very day.
I have no worry if someone copies my thoughts. I believe that no one can ever copy an experience. Because an experience is always individual. It is never the same. In this way I free myself from any fear or worry.
Someone asked me to moderate a panel discussion last year. I don’t remember the topic of the discussion specifically anymore. I think it was about having self respect and maintaining humility at the same time. There would be two speakers. I prepared a list of questions the night before for the discussion.
In the next morning I thought I would like to talk to each speaker and share the list of the questions. The first speaker said : ”You can ask me anything.” She didn’t want to see the list. I thought it was good for me, so I could ask any question. Then I talked to the second speaker. He wanted to read the list. He went through the questions one by one and he asked me to take out one question from the list. It was a very personal question. I asked them to share their personal stories on maintaining their humility while dealing with difficult people. Whether they succeeded or not, it wouldn’t matter. I realized that not everyone found it easy and comfortable to share an honest story about themselves.
We always could learn from other’s story. I believe that we can learn more from someone’s experience than just from information. Infomation is a theory and experience is a practice. Because experience is coming from the heart so it will inspire people more. Sharing an experience is always much better than sharing an information. It is a heart-to-heart sharing.