We are all born with two ears and one mouth. But we generally end up talking more than listening. Why is this so ? May be it starts with the family, then the academic institutions and finally organisations and society. We are always encouraged by our family, friends and society at large to communicate well and make an impression, wherever we are. We have always been guided to outsmart everyone around us. There is nothing wrong with this teaching. However, it is important to realize that God may have given two ears and one mouth to all of us with a purpose, as illustrated by this kid in the photo above.
We possibly need to realize that effective communication in life means listening more and talking less. Let us examine this from own life experiences. Who in the family we like to spend our time most. In all probability, it would be our mother. This is because she would be the best listener in your family. She listened to our non stop blabbering and the unending questions without losing her patience or cool ever.
If we move to the school or college, who was our favourite teacher ? Its always the teacher with whom you can share all your stories – good or bad. The teacher always created space for us. She was ever willing to listen to us and our views . She made us comfortable and let us experiment and fail in any situation. On the other hand, imagine the teacher who advised you on everything in life even before you asked. What would be your reaction ?
If we move to organisations, employees love peers or managers who lend their ears under all circumstances. Such managers and peers attract you like a magnet. You can laugh with them or cry with them and you can be your self. They are non judgemental and always have the time and space for you. On the other extreme, you meet managers who are instructing you all the time even on issues where you do not need any advice. None of us like to work with such managers.
I have sometimes wondered as to why listening is more powerful than talking ? I recall an incident, where I was conducting an interview of a candidate for the head of manufacturing position. The interview lasted for an hour. The candidate spoke for 50 minutes and I may have spoken for ten minutes. At the end of the interview, I asked the candidate if he had observed anything in his behaviour during the interview. He was puzzled. When I explained to him that most of the time he was speaking and I was listening, he realised the power of listening. I could listen to him and make my decision without speaking much.
Life is no different. If we look at our kids. Most of the time if we are willing to listen to their questions and chatter, they are happy. They are more than happy even if you do not answer all their questions. They appreciate your patience and listening skills more than your talking. Listening is more effective in communication than speaking.
I can share another incident in my life. My father was a government servant. He was a very patient person. He hardly spoke and never lost his cool. But still his staff adored him. I was very curious. I asked his staffone day as to what did they observe in him. He responded by saying that he admired him for his calmness and patience. This proves listening is much more impactful than speaking.
Let us resolve to listen more and talk less from today. It is worth a try.
S Ramesh Shankar