To most of us, communication probably refers to the way we express ourselves to others. But have you ever considered it to be a two-way street? Today, communication is akin to a competition of speaking, where each tries to prove themselves the wittiest and most knowledgeable. In constantly thinking of brilliant ways to respond to and intercept the other person, we forget to listen to them at all. And thus, the more we talk and think about talking, the less we’re able to communicate. Listening and speaking always go hand in hand—when you listen better, you’ll speak and communicate better too.
In a world where the “need for speed” mentality prevails, the urge to finish any conversation as fast as possible, with the only goal of making yourself heard, makes most interactions worthless. When we jump to conclusions without understanding or comprehending someone’s full story, we form perspectives on people and situations that are inaccurate because— we simply did not listen. As a result, we miss out on chances to truly get to know the other person. And if you have the aforementioned mentality, there’s a high chance the person you’re talking to does too—hence neither are you listening nor are you being listened to.
Would you rather be truly listened to, or simply be treated as a side thought for someone whose priority lies elsewhere? Most people would undoubtedly choose the first option.
We have heard that change begins with oneself. If you would like to be listened to attentively, the best way to do so would be to start listening to others attentively as well. Others are more likely to pay attention to someone who listens to them, rather than someone who constantly talks without a filter. By listening rather than talking, you are giving something valuable to the person who's speaking—this is also a powerful relationship-building tool. When you truly listen to the other person, you borrow their perspective, compare it with your own, after which your own perspective may also change—hence encouraging open-mindedness. And when others see you genuinely interested in what they are saying, they will be motivated to do the same.
Thus, listening and talking in a balanced way is imperative in our world. Though we have been blessed with the gift of words, it is important to discern the right time to use them and the right time to listen to others observantly.