“So, you mean we need to be taught how to listen?”
This might be the first reaction of readers reading the title of this post. A few days ago, I fortunately realized the sad truth that we need to be taught the art of listening. What lead me to this realization?
I am reading a book written by mystic J. Krishnamurthi titled ‘Awakening of Intelligence’. The book is a collection of talks, interviews, discussions of J. Krishnamurthi, the mystic who honestly tried to wake us up from our fears and conditioning. In the many of his talks and discussions, J. Krishnamurthi often hits this question-
‘Do we listen with total attention?’ When I sincerely asked this question to myself, my answer was simply ‘no’.
The sad truth is, we never listen with the pure intent of ‘listening’ to someone. Our listening is always corrupted by many other motives and intentions. How does a typical person listen? What actually happens when we are listening to someone? Five minutes of contemplation will reveal the ‘corrupt’ nature of our listening. Whatever we listen to, is first scrutinized by our mind, then distorted and then it reaches us. When we listen to a person, there are many filters which distort the message. For example, when we listen to someone, the content of what he says gets influenced by the image of that person which we already have in our minds. Many times, we react differently to same message depending on the person who delivers it. This indicates that the medium, i.e. the person affects the content of the message.
Apart from this, when we are listening to someone, we are always judging and calculating. Many times, we listen to just respond. Many times, we listen to prepare a counter argument.
As J. Krishnamurthi says, we hardly listen just for the purpose of listening.
Advantages of total listening
Why should one be determined to listen totally? What will one loose if one listens partially? The biggest and gravest disadvantage is, loss of information. When you listen to any message through your own calculating and judging mind, which is just a product of your past, each new message is getting coloured with your past. As a result, whatever new and unknown (to you) information the message has, it will either be distorted or neglected.
We listen to someone for many purposes- getting new ideas, get inspired, bring a change in ourselves etc. But, if we listen partially, through our mind, it distorts the message as per its conditioning and hence kills all the potential of the message to bring about a change. For years, enlightened beings and spiritual masters are preaching. But hardly anyone is transformed. Why? Because each one of his distorts the message as per his mind and his convenience, eliminating its ability to bring about a change.
Even in corporate life, after spending some time, one realizes that very few persons are good listeners. Good listening helps you everywhere- let it be education, job, spirituality etc. One thing to always keep in mind is the fact that great leaders are always good listeners. The one who listens totally, understands totally and hence, can provide a total solution.
1. When you are listening to someone, just listen. Do not let anything come in between you and the person you are listening to.
2. When you meet a person, don’t try to judge him, put him in a compartment. Do not allow the image of the person to influence your opinion about what he is saying
3. The best option is, stop making opinions about people, what they say, how they look and their past behavior.