Every person is unique. Everyone has their own opinions, judgments, ideas, and conclusions about life. Because of these differences, meeting new people and spending time with them can be difficult. A fundamental step we can take to improve our interactions with others is listening.
Listening for your growth
One of the habits in the famous book “7 habits of highly effective people by Covey” goes like this: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. No matter how strong our opinion on a subject can be, it can only help us to listen (really listen) to different or even opposing thoughts and ideas.
After all, if we join a conversation only to impose our opinion, it would look more like a fight than a real conversation. A “selfish” person would argue that only his opinion is correct and others are wrong. A genuinely selfish person would be happier if his opinion changed after the conversation because he took something out of this interaction and used it for his growth.
When you are in a conversation, you can try the following technique. You do not state any opinion for the first minutes or until asked. All you do is listen to what the other(s) say and then speak only to paraphrase their sayings. That is what a truly selfish person would do. I say that because doing so you have more chances to use this conversation for your growth than if you tried to impose your opinion.
Listening to connect
When you listen to the other person, you glimpse into their mental structure, thoughts, and attitude toward life. That can be entertaining at times, as you meet more and more personalities with different conclusions and judgments. Most importantly, it helps you connect with the other.
The more two people’s thoughts coincide, the more they connect. Take, for example, couples or good friends. They relate because they think the same way, do about the same stuff and behave the same way.
If there are differences and the mental structures do not intersect, there are two ways you can connect with the other. You wait for them to think the same way as you do, or you make an effort from your end. In any case, listening can help you see if making an effort is worthwhile or you should move on.
Listening to life
Listening need not necessarily mean hearing capability. You can also learn to listen very carefully to life and the situation around you. When you listen to everything around you, you perceive what is happening now and what is the next step to take.
Learning to listen to life can be transformative. Thoughts and emotions are only a tiny part of life that most of us listen to anyway. Many other things are happening at the same time, and we are unaware of them, or we do not pay any attention. Life is all around. Think of birds singing, the wind blowing, the sun setting, the moon going around the earth, the rotation of the earth, and so much more.
There is no need for ceremonies or special exercises. If you don’t think and do nothing, you naturally listen to life. That isn’t easy to achieve because most of the day is so busy that even when we select to do nothing, our minds spin around things we have to do or want to do. It is admittedly tough to shut the mind down for a few moments. However, it is possible, and it can for sure be worth it.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood
- When two people’s thoughts coincide to a large extent, then they connect.
- Listen to life all around; it is worth it