“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen” - Ernest Hemingway
The story of a person is the heart of their human experience. To know the story of a person is to understand the essence of their human existence. No two stories are the same since no two people lead the same life. Therefore, to listen to these stories is a privilege. However, this privilege is used by a very few. Since the time advances, there is an increasing need for good listeners.
Paying attention to someone is such an important act. It conveys respect and positive regard. To pay full attention to someone communicates a sense of valuing and being interested in who they are and what they have to say. In order to pay full attention to someone, we need to listen. Listening is without doubt the most important skill. At first, it may seem that listening is very easy - it’s something we do everyday - but actually to truly listen to someone else is challenging. Listening involves no clever interventions or suggestions or useful pieces of advice. It involves simply and truly listening to someone and accepting what they have to say without opinion or judgment.
Let’s contemplate on why we should listen.
We should listen to improve the person’s quality of life
WHO defines Quality of Life as an individual's perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns. Listening to a person makes him/her/they feel understood by someone else. This helps in reducing the concerns and reaching closer to the standards, thus enhancing the quality of life.
We should listen to improve care
Actively listening to the loved ones around us who are going through a difficult time or are facing mental health challenges, make us understand the person more. While this might not give us the remedy for the situation, it will help us have an understanding of how to take care of the person.
We should listen to learn
The Ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, used to listen to the diplomats in the King’s court and the slaves in the street with the same fervour. According to him, the secrets of nature resided in what other people have to say, irrespective of their gender, colour, caste, race, class, etc. Likewise, the understanding of the social environment around us is enhanced through listening.
(WHO | WHOQOL: Measuring Quality of Life, 2020)