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How difficult is it to listen?

The short answer – very.

I realize that this is not a great way to start most blog posts, however, direct the question or however simple the answer.Imagine if The Sixth Sense started with a disclaimer that described Bruce Willis as a ghost. Shocker, right? Oh and don’t mind the spoiler, because if you still haven’t seen it, then it’s most likely your fault.

Now that I’ve sorted out the TL;DR version for people with an attention disorder, let us dive deeper into the topic at hand. The question presented itself, thanks to a recent fight that I had with my wife, pretty much single-handedly!

Oh, don’t be alarmed! We are in the COVID era. Who else would you expect me to squabble with, and what else would I do?

Well, never mind the topic of discussion that evolved into the argument, and eventually, the fight. The critical observation here was the root cause for the flying tempers. Believe it or not, it all boiled down to how much either of us listened, or well, didn’t listen in this particular case.

It is not a glaring revelation that most fights occur because people do not listen to one another. That is a given. Also, it’s kind of hard to listen to one another when the decibels are just playing their version of an acoustic see-saw! What I am hinting at is the inability of people to listen to ‘themselves’.

Don’t worry! We are not about to take this conversation into the philosophical. Nor am I referring to some ridiculous hearing disability that is probably not real. Though, if I had to go by the sort of crap that spewed out of Rakhi Sawant’s mouth, I’m sure that she is ‘physically’ unable to hear herself

We are so committed to putting our point across the table that we seldom pay attention to the actual words that we use and the tone that accompanies them. It IS sometimes a curse to have thoughts that race ahead of your tongue because when the latter cannot keep up, it starts to compensate with an aggressive tone.

So what REALLY happens in a fight then, apart from a mutual waste of quality time? It does start with a discussion, but somewhere in between, we start searching for specific words that we aren’t hearing, but are expecting.

What sort of twisted way of communicating is this? We say we listen, but our minds are already pre-conditioned to expect an answer. All that we do, is match the auditory signals to that expectation.

Wait, so are we saying that in most cases, we don’t listen to the person talking to us, but instead to the little voice in our head, that’s shouting out random prompts?

So then, what does it take to listen, and I mean ‘really’ listen?

Quite simple. When someone talks to you, just take it in. There is a time to ingest information, and then there is a time to digest it. While discussing something important, take your time to absorb the content fully before you start preparing your response. It’s quite funny that we practise this very same technique while tackling interviews, but deem it too inferior to apply in day-to-day life!

And I know this because I’ve been on the other side of this problem, while hiring resources for work. Nothing ticks me off worse than a candidate who JUST won’t listen, and yet when it comes to personal conversations, how do I end up being so thick-headed? We learnt some of these basics in our childhood, didn’t we? Then why did we forget them along the way?

The answer in my head is two-fold. On one side, we have the dominant streak of social and mass media that’s built on the foundation of throwing ideas out there, with utter disregard for sentiments, balanced conversations, or logical arguments.

All of which is expertly exemplified by Arnab Goes-whammy!

The second side of this answer is the sheer lack of re-calibration. We’ve been trained on how to appear for job interviews, how to behave in an office, how to talk to clients, and how to act as leaders. But no one ever bothered to help us re-calibrate how we behave in life post-school. One does need to undo the damage dealt by the likes of Twitter and Facebook to the way we communicate with people.

This is not entirely true, by the way. Parents do continue to give us meaningful advice on how to behave in life, but how do I say this?Their advice is similar to the instruction manual that comes with a new device. We all think we don’t need it, until something breaks.

So yeah, there isn’t a guideline or a rulebook that teaches us to re-learn the things that we forget, and that is why, to listen, is a difficult task. Almost as difficult as writing a nine-hundred-word article on a concept that takes most of us more than a lifetime to master.

But don’t worry! Where there is a cheat, there is a way; and here’s a neat little solution to this pesky little problem –

If you find it too hard to listen, then just shut the **** up. (No clue why WordPress decided to mask the word ‘hell’. They can’t all be Christians!)

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