Listen, Listen, Listen!

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Article by: Tazim Elkington

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Let's start by clarifying what communication means. Many may think they are great communicators because they do most of the talking in any given scenario. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. These people have become so used to hearing their own voice that they don't listen. Which brings me to the second active part in communication- listening.

When I say listen, I do not mean ‘hear’ as those are two different modes. When one actively listens this means that they stop speaking not only verbally but also stop thinking of how to respond, or what they are going to say next. To listen actively means that one is fully engaged in what the other person is saying without interrupting them.

Our world has become a very noisy place. We have a new syndrome called ‘noise pollution’. Everywhere we go there are multiple distractions from loud music to phones ringing and people talking over each other rather than with each other.

I have seen couples out at dinner and both are on their latest gadget answering email, text messages and calls. Let’s not forget surfing the net for anything and everything halfway through a sentence. The mind is becoming this space where we constantly bombard ourselves with irrelevant information. The constant discussions on things we cannot control are depleting. Discussions on what really matters are fewer and further apart.

The need to fill in every moment with ‘talk’ to prove one is informed or intelligent beats the purpose of communication. Many have forgotten the need to ‘pause’, ‘take a breath’ and then decide whether what they have to say adds value.

Silence has become elusive. If one is not capable of listening to oneself how is it possible to listen to another? The mind has taken over and although this is an integral part of our existence, we are not our mind- neither are we our body. We are conscious beings becoming less and less conscious each day.

Our worlds revolve around accumulating more and more and ‘enough’ seems to be a word that has fallen out of our psyche. More success, more activity, more noise, more stuff, more education, more information, more clothes, more money and the list is endless.

Having enough at any given time puts one in a different mindset. One does not have to compete and compare oneself allowing oneself to set their own bar. Lessening all the external noise helps lessen the internal noise. This frees up the space that is needed to REALLY listen. Being selective about what information one keeps digesting eliminates mental constipation which generally translates to verbal diarrhoea.

I am sure you know people who you wish would stop speaking as nothing of real value comes through. And then you have those who you do not hear a peep from- maybe they feel their contributions may not interest others. Ask these quiet ones a question and engage them, you might just surprise yourself.

Here are a few tips on how to lessen the noise around you:

  1. Do not have the TV and music on while you are having a conversation or a meal
  2. While communicating, do not interrupt a person with your input
  3. Do not gossip – speaking about others in their absence is noise
  4. Complaining about things you cannot control is blah blah
  5. Giving excuses is another time waster – take responsibility for your actions as well as your non-action
  6. Let your mind be flexible and question your strongest beliefs as they tend to create self-made prisons and limitations
  7. Have integrity – this is a priceless value
  8. Be authentic instead of a clone
  9. Be gentle with yourself, perfectionism is a myth!



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