I used to believe there are two types of people in the world: those who speak and those who listen. There was a time that I rarely spoke or listened to people, but I observed everyone. I found this was very effective for me to see who people really were without having to engage with them.
Then, I decided that I would try to fit in with others, so I began to use my voice. It went well for a while, I was meeting people and I was making friends. But a problem soon arose. The "friends" I was making weren't truly friends worth keeping. I was so busy talking to people that I lost the ability to see a person for who they really were... this was because I spoke more than listened. Now I have reverted back to my true self. A person who listens and speaks very little, if at all.
Listening Takes Patience
When I first embarked on this journey, it was very difficult for me to listen to what the other person was saying when they spoke. Don't get me wrong, I heard them. But it just sounded like a bunch of words. I wasn't the type of person to engage, and I always would be frustrated when I did not understand what the other person was saying. Patience is a virtue that I always have struggled with. In a world where we have everything at our fingertips and have instant gratification, we need to understand that some things just take time. Learning how to genuinely listen is one of them.
Listening Takes Practice
I know what you must be thinking. How do you practice listening? What does that even mean? Well, I must tell you that I really do not know how to explain it. To me, practicing listening means sitting in stillness and in silence. When we do both of these things, we focus on what is going on around us instead of ourselves. This is a method that many practice with meditation. But I genuinely think you do not need to meditate to practice this, even though meditation really does help. You can sit in a room in silence and hear your surroundings as they happen around you. Even when you are in conversations with another individual, focus your energy on what they are saying. Hear them speak, this encourages listening.
Listening Takes Strength
Now, strength is a word that I use to convey just how much you must hold yourself back from speaking. I was always quick to speak, often cutting others off in the process. I could never control myself when I decided to start the journey of listening. I always felt that I wanted to get what I had to contribute to the conversations out, that I just didn't let others speak. In return, I didn't hear what they were saying because I was too busy thinking of a response. Summon the strength to quiet yourself and fully engage in the conversation by listening to other people's opinions. Trust me, when you do speak, you will be stronger from listening and you will be able to contribute genuine responses.
These are only a few tricks I have for listening as I am still actively working on becoming a better listener. Therefore, I will be making another post about listening in the future. Listening is important. Just as important as speaking. When we listen better, we speak with more intention and power to add to a conversation. Not only this, but we genuinely hear what the other person has to say and walk away with the potential of gaining a new perspective. It's a journey, but it is a journey worth taking.