how to be a good listener?

With one of my friends, sometimes after we’ve had a good conversation, I feel that my heart feels so light and unburdened. In fact some conversations are so absoulutely fulfilling that I become so happy at the end of it, irrespective of any outcome (or lack of it) of the conversation!

How come this happens? Then it hit me that she isn’t so full of herself that she lacks the patience to listen to me completely.

Then it hit me and I rediscovered the same old thing again – that when I’m listening to someone without being so full of myself – my own thoughts and misinterpretations and opinions and distractions – then I can become a good listener.

PS: Btw this particular friend happens to be my wife and hence the emphasis on ‘sometimes’ 😉

5 Responses to “how to be a good listener?”

  1. rahul Says:

    I do not have an organized thought on the topic coz I’ve failed to do so 🙁 So plz go with the flow and think beyond what I’ve written here 🙂 Another rule of thumb, a caveat never take my writings personally 🙂

    Here are some questions that haunt me when it boils down to much-hyped listening skill:

    Well, is the conversation good if you just listened to?

    Isn’t it desirable that all the parties in the conversation have something to contribute?

    Is it still a listening if the parties do not cut you short and contribute? Or does it become mere hearing then?

    To be honest, I sometime do crave for being listened to at times … but on further self-investigation I’ve noticed that when crave checks-in what I’m looking for is, “to be heard”. And when it is to-be-heard there is too much pressure inside to give any thought to what others are saying in a conversation.

    Listening is far more complex than what I understand of it and it is way too different from hearing. Listening is an active process of contribution to the subject of discussion which might look like a passive act but it is not. Unless one sails very keenly on the border-line of passive vis-a-vis active it destined to fall in either “hearing” or “not-paying-attention” categories.

    Most of the times when we say “listen to me” what we usually mean is “hear me out” coz to-be-listened-to, although desirable, is never a desire.

  2. kalpesh Says:

    Nice post. Gives some food for thought. Listening too is an art which if mastered can work wonders in the world.

  3. msanjay Says:

    Rahul, glad you shared your thoughts though you considered them disorganized – that’s often the best way of saying something!

    I believe you’ve really hit the nail on the head when you say Listening is an active process – absolutely no doubt about it. Otherwise a wall or a tree would qualify as a very good listener as well 😉 I was not just referring to hearing out though sometimes as you’ve mentioned thats nice as well. One more point is, ne might take undue advantage of a good listner by going on and on never-endingly!

    In my opinion, true listening is a dynamic situation-dependent combination of being silent, or giving a counterpoint, or being a devil’s advocate, or agreeing and encouraging, or probing further asking questions, sometimes helping the speaker coming back on track instead of getting distracted and running off tangentially.

    (btw nothing personal here, I’m using ‘I’ only as an example) What I meant when I said “not full of myself” : is that usually say some friend starts talking about some difficulty say he’s finding at his home, say some health issue. I start off with “you think that’s a difficulty, I know someone who is much worse off than that…” and I start off and next 15 minutes I’m talking about things totally irrelevant to my friend, but only of importance to me! I vaguely rmemeber Kichu had described this saying we’re all like “Masters of Misery” :mrgreen: we’re experts in proving to everyone how we’re more miserable than anyone else! Sometimes this kind of derailing may start with a good idea of giving a counter-example to prove some point, but usually if I am full of myself what happens is that within a few moments, that point gets lost, the ego takes over and soon the only point becomes Myself! :mrgreen:

    Thanks kalpesh, very true – not just in social, but professional life as well.

  4. latha vidyaranya Says:

    true listening is not just listening to the words, but listening to the feelings behind those words. sometimes the speaker wants to say something, but the right words do not come out; he may fumble for words overwhelmed with emotions. it is then that listening to his/her emotions become more important than merely his/her words. it is very difficult to listen to somebody without your own preconceived notions giving colour to the other party’s words. at such times you hear what you wanted to hear!

    you feel so unburdened when some one listens to your words with empathy. through empathetic listening the person is actually taking a big load off your heart and u feel lighter. and if you can listen remaining totally non-judgemental, you can heal the unseen wound!

  5. msanjay Says:

    excellent inputs latha, thank you so much for adding your valuable views. Can closely relate to what you’ve said.

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