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Listening : Resources And Skills To Help Make A Better Listener

Written by Sheeba Manish

Listening is a dying art. It has slipped through the crevices, under the force of speaking, of being heard. Everyone wants to put out their perspective, to express; but who will listen? Our children have things to share, but often we are too busy and when we do, we are quick to offer quick-fix solutions. Sometimes, they just want to share their silly joke or tell you an anecdote.

Sometimes at home we have fighting and shouting matches. I try to outshout and outwill my daughter. She in turn does this to me especially when it is about chores she must do. It’s exhausting and frustrating. Stopping mid-sentence and listening has often helped me understand what is bugging her (she wants to do it but 5 seconds later) and moderate my behaviour to arrive at mutually satisfying outcomes.

Anxiety and control nix listening like nothing else can. If you want to listen but are finding it hard, because word and emotions are blacking out your brain, breathe deeply. Inhale and take in some oxygen. Exhale. Repeat. Now calm down and listen; even if the other person is venting. It doesn’t make you a wimp, it arms you with more inputs to make an informed decision.

In her book Listening to Children: Being And Becoming, Bronwyn Davies discusses the concept of emergent listening. In this form of listening we don’t ‘hear’ what we understand, but ‘listen’ for what is. This requires an opening of oneself to others.

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Children can hone their skills in listening very early on. It is when they are not heard, or disregarded that they stop listening and keep talking.

Howard.B.Wigglebottom Learns to Listen is one such book. Howard learns how it is more beneficial to listen, rather than not.

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Lacy loves to talk, but when she loses her voices, she discovers the joys of listening. Lacy, Walker, Nonstop Talker, is a wonderful book for tiny tots to pick up listening skills.

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It is so easy for teens in the world of Snapchat and WhatsApp to not really pay attention and have meaningful social interactions with those offline. Communication Skills for Teens: How to Listen, Express, and Connect for Success comes highly recommended in its ability to help teenagers listen more actively and with compassion. 

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Today as we were on a major decluttering drive at home, I came across a poem written by an unknown poet as a listening request.  As I sat among a pile of paper and charger wires, I realised how relevant this poem was. It is  time, we listen to each other much more than we speak. Sometimes by listening with open ears, an open mind and closed lips we heal and encourage. We also hear our own heart’s musings, we understand better and we move ahead with compassion.

Eternal thanks to the unknown writer.

Please Listen

When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why
I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem,
you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.

Advice is cheap; 20 cents will get
you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham
in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and
inadequacy.

But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince
you and get about this business
of understanding what’s behind
this irrational feeling.

And when that’s clear, the answers are
obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when
we understand what’s behind them.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works, sometimes,
for some people – because God is mute,
and he doesn’t give advice or try
to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work
it out for yourself.

So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute
for your turn – and I will listen to you.

Anonymous

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