We don’t listen well because it’s quite simply, hard.
We are, at our baseline, emotional creatures, whether we care to admit it or not. People and situations get us irritated and quick off the bat. We are eager to get our point across, to defend what we believe in and to make sure that others hear us. So we speak louder and faster. So we repeat.
It may not work but it soothes us. It helps us deal with it on an emotional level but the real issues are still left unresolved.
It’s hard to stop and really listen. To suspend judgement and listen with an open heart and mind.
It means you have to stop thinking, stop planning your response, stop foreseeing the next argument about to be raised.
It means you have to let go of the outcome.
It means you have to come to terms that you do not control the situation but only control your behaviour and thoughts.
Are we capable of listening well?
Yes, with practice, mindfulness and a clear intent to do so.How well am I doing? On average, still very badly.
I still react and defend my position.
I still get emotional and retort rather than reflect and take my time.
But I am practising and working on mindfulness and more importantly, I want to.
Short pause. Midway or even at the end of a discussion, even if it feels too late. Barring some exceptional circumstances, it’s usually not too late to repair something done or said.
Big pause – sleeping on it. For bigger issues, taking the opportunity to call a half time on it and coming back to it later, refreshed.
Being open to rethinking it. Accepting that you don’t have all the answers, that perhaps the other view has validity, that you can step into their shoes if only for a while, to see things differently.
Letting go. Just simply doing that just removes all the weight off your shoulders that everything needs to go your way, that everyone needs to see your perspective and that everything is centred around your opinion. It doesn’t. And it doesn’t matter.
What do you think?