We have heard great deal about good listening wherein you attentively listen to others and ask relevant questions. It’s no doubt a great way of learning and one of the best social skill. I have been a great listener all my life which has helped me attract people from different spheres of life who would open their heart out to me. They share how great they have been with something or may be what problems they are facing in their lives; and I listen to them apathetically. This creates great bond between us. Being a good listener is a way of showing how much you respect them, and a great way of showing your apathy to them. It unlocks the door of opportunity to learn from their experiences.
There has been a flip side to it too. Most of the people who I have been interacting are poor listener themselves. Many of them just want to talk but show little concern to listen to me or for that matter others. I do have things worth sharing but they hardly care. While they may consider me their best friend to speak to, I don’t have similar feelings for them. This results into weaker relationship with those people mostly as they have not been a good listener. Had they been eager to listen to me even half of my level, I would be happy but this doesn’t happen.
The other problem I have faced is while you may have sound knowledge on something, other guy speaking on same thing considers you naive just because you are listening to him attentively and asking relevant questions. I don’t understand how does it work but it happens. Even if you share what you know about this point they find themselves extremely knowledgeable while you appear to have lesser understanding on the subject which could be vice versa in reality. They might not consider you inferior but they certainly find themselves superior. Only listening and not expressing what you know and understand cost you dearly. People take you for granted and you may have to suffer both professionally and personally.
Million dollar question pops in here; “So how do I deal with it?”
The answer is simple; “Don’t just listen, converse.” While only listening is one party speaking the most; conversation is more about two way communications wherein both parties need to listen to each other attentively, ask relevant questions and share their knowledge and experience. When you are conversing on something where you too have some knowledge and experience, do share it with others. Easy way is to share how you have experienced and learned about the subject. It could be your academics, previous or current job or business or may be someone from your family or friend has been working on it and you had an opportunity to learn it through them. In case, you have zero understanding about the point of discussion, just listen and ask relevant questions. You may be amazed to see how you are able relate what you know and the strange topic being discussed and start sharing your knowledge, experience without appearing irrelevant.
Let me share an example, I have a relative who is pursuing PhD on aeronautical science. He is working on time space travel something shown on Hollywood movie Interstellar. We met at a marriage function. Had it been other occasion, I would have just listened but this time it was different. When he initially shared his topic it sounded complete alien to me. He was expecting our conversation is stop there but I asked him to explain. He got enthusiastic and started explaining the topic. I found great similarity between his study and concept shown in the movie Interstellar. I shared it with him and he exclaimed “Yes, it’s very similar to that.” His excitement just doubled and he went on for some more time. Since I too had to share what I am doing and how great it is, I intentionally asked about how this whole research thing works, even when I had fair idea about that. It’s similar to projects wherein you pick and topic, present it to board, fix timelines, keep record, finish the project and present it to the board. When he shared it, I said great, it’s pretty similar to our e-commerce business. Next question was an obvious one “How, please share.” It was my turn now. Our conversation went on for more than an hour to be interrupted when our wives came looking for us. J Was it fulfilling conversation? You bet! It indeed was for both of us. After this our bond has increased a lot.
There is exception to this whole “converse instead of mere listening” concept. Your family, close friends and even a stranger in trouble may only need you to listen. Your 3 years old kid has just finished a round of park on his tri cycle and he is excited about his achievement. He is sharing his heroics. All you need to listen and congratulate him on this great achievement. You won’t share how you have been great with your motorbike. Your parents are feeling lonely lately and they need someone to sit with and talk. You need not share how great or poor you have been doing at your job or business; just listen to them patiently. You come across a stranger who appears to be in trouble, just listen to him and offer help if it’s in your capacity.
You need to converse with your boss, subordinates, inter-department team member, your business partner or associates, your clients or some stranger who is sharing how great he has been in his job or business. Do share what you know and are great at. Let them know they are interacting with someone who not only is great listener but is experienced and knowledgeable on something.
Wish you fulfilling conversations and happy life.
I shared my experience, now I urge you to share your experience in comment section. Share it with your friends if you like this article.
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