I witnessed a very common scene at my friend Rita's place. She was yelling at her son. Saurav, for his poor performance in the exams. She was telling him how he wasted his time on social networking, the Internet, chatting and hanging around. But this young one had already prepared his speech in defence. The moment she completed, he was ready with his part as to how the paper that was set was hard, out of portion questions were there, he didn't have enough time and so on. It was clear from his statements that he hadn't heard a word of what his mother had said; he was only interested in protecting himself.
The emotions she was going through, her anxiety, were all wasted on Saurav, for all he wanted to do was to speak even before he could listen. Every month we have morning meetings in our office. My husband, Sunil, is very particular about punctuality. For my own reasons I was late to the meetings by a few minutes. Sunil being Sunil, tried to explain to me that I had to be on time. But instead of fully listening to him, I went into defensive mode and started explaining as to why I was late. I didn't allow myself to listen or understand what Sunil was trying to convey. I just wanted to prove myself right and get out scot-free.
Result? Sunil was disgruntled and I was unhappy! Sunil, being a wise one, understand that I was no way prepared to listen or discuss on the topic. A few hours later he explained that if we as the Directors of the organisation were late, we would set a wrong example to the employees. This time I was in listening mode and could completely understand what Sunil was saying. Result? Sunil was satisfied that I have happily understood what he was saying and I was determined to always make it on time for the future meetings!
All of us want to begin speaking, explaining, advising, justifying even before we are done with listening! Doesn't it happen with you too? When your boss is wondering why the sales targets weren't met, before listening to him, aren't you ready with all the excuses? When a friend is sharing about her troubled marriage, aren't we ready with comforting words even before she is done with her speaking? When a child is expressing his feelings about something that really matters to him, aren't we ready with advice even before he is done with expressing? When the wife is sharing her problems with you, aren't you ready with solutions even before she can tell you that she has already solved it?
So it's clear, more often than not, we give half an ear to listening and do a lot of speaking. If only we could listen to understand and not listen to justify or advice, how much better would our relationship be? In fact, this will play significant role in helping people to solve their problems, resolve conflicts, foster deeper intimacy and for sure will create a more loving and harmonious relationship. The next time you find your thoughts wandering towards the reply while someone is speaking, remind yourself , "Shhhhh…. first listen ! “