For a change be silent and just listen to others
FREEZE FRAME BY SYEDA AFSHANA
Most people are not good listeners. In general, they talk more than they listen. Listening is regarded as a passive thing, but it can be a very active process : something to challenge our intelligence. A barrage of queries contests our mental reception and makes listening a constructive exercise.
To make sure that we grasp the speaker’s complete meaning, critical listening is a pre-requisite. In a world full of propaganda and high-pressure advertising, it is badly needed. Looking for motives behind the words and speeches, which are often solidly larded with symbols and meant to avoid the need for thought, is the best way to decode the real message. The patient ear can identify them a long way off. Moreover, whether the speaker is dealing in facts or inferences can be also be found to make a distinction in political and economic talk, and follow the shifts from one level to the next.
We as listeners need to consider our own attitude towards the speaker. Are we prejudiced for or against him? Are we being fair and sympathetic? How the speaker feels about events? What his drives appear to be? What kind of person is he? All this has to be discovered by listening carefully. The appraisal can only be a rough one, but it can be a decided help in dealing with a speaker or in giving him a fair response/feedback. If not so, careful listening, at least, can help us to remain quiet rather than sounding off foolishly. That’s why it is said that the best listeners listen alertly, expecting to learn something and to aid create new ideas.
Interestingly, it has been found that sometimes only about a quarter of an audience understands clearly what a speaker has said. In Britain, there are “Listening Clinics” to sharpen the listening capabilities. One of the members of the Clinic is made to read out aloud while the others around the table concentrate on what he is saying. Later they summarize what they have heard and compare notes, often to find out that the accounts differ widely! Gradually the listeners improve, and recurrently they find themselves transferring the skill to business and home affairs.
Inner voice—listening to it is yet another big deal. Your conscience is never dead. It is always awake to the goings-on. It is addressing us all the time, but we deny listening. The voice that emanates from our deep chords, cuts through the maze of multiple thoughts occupying our mind fades out somewhere in the isolated corner of our daily existence. We deliberately ignore it for if we take notice of it we will never again dare to see our face in mirror. We kill this voice brutally to hide our guilt. We pretend wisdom and cleverness to outside world and take pride in cheating ourselves and, of course, others. How pity!! If only we can listen to ourselves.
At times, don’t we behave as skilled ‘deaf actors’ who see and smell everything but virtually listen to nothing around or in us? We do, certainly. We see pain and sorrow but we don’t listen to its actual throbbing. We don’t listen to agonizing sighs and sobs though we acknowledge understanding them. We don’t listen to trickling of innocent tears though we find water in eyes. We catch sight of flames but we never ever listen to their cindering catastrophes. We spot death almost each day but we don’t heed to its terrible lesson. It speaks to us a great deal, but again we deny listening.
We also refuse hearing to what occurs within us. We beat and we don’t hear the lashes. We humiliate but we don’t hear the slaps. We deceive but we don’t hear the wailing of justice. We betray but we don’t hear the mourning of trust. We sacrifice but we don’t hear the last dying cry.
How much do we miss out, intentionally or otherwise? We miss listening to the meaningful music from the Nature. The chirping birds; running rivers; flowing waterfalls; floating clouds; blowing winds; cascading rains; buzzing bees; rustling trees; and bleating animals—we are sadly hard of hearing! Nature scoffs at our ‘selective’ impaired listening. ‘Selective’ because we are not bad at listening to noise, gossip and grapevine. We are awfully nice in keeping our ears open to all that is jarring and spicy, has no substance and carries unfounded cynicism or slander. We carefully and devotedly listen to all kinds of rasping “stories”--- kitchen stories; bedroom stories; cabinet stories; office stories; campus stories; ider ki stories; uder ki stories; blah, blah, blah. And then, transmitting the same with added mirch-masala becomes our foremost duty as ‘honest’ listeners.
Wonder how much ample time we utilize for this ‘outstanding endeavour’!! We are really great people!
(The author teaches at Media Education Research Centre, MERC, Kashmir University.)
Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Nov 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Nov 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Nov 2010 00:00:00 IST
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