I’m not sure about the past (since I was not around to witness it), but many people today listen just so they can retort. If they are not subtle about their self-centered tendencies, they would just reply back with most of the times irrelevant information about themselves.
- “Hey, so my dog just died.”
- “Oh? My pet lizard died ten years ago and till this day, I’m still hurt. I actually had her skin preserved. Do you want to see the pictures? I can even bring her the next time we meet.”
Maybe not this exaggerated, but you know the drill.
Even the most selfless among us have the habit of listening to give advice, console or comfort.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but some situations require not a wise pair of lips, but an understanding pair of ears. I’m sure you have had this experience, the feeling of a burden being practically moved from your chest just by ranting to another person even if that person did not give you any advice.
We all know the old adage of how communication is the key to relationships, but listening is the key to communication. Mindful listening aims to extend our non-judgmental listening of our own thoughts and feelings, to another living being.
The goal is to just listen, not to reply, to correct, or to give advice, but just simply listen. It’s extremely handy especially when one or both ends of the conversation happen to be emotionally charged. Rational approach of the situation can come later, but currently emotionally aggravated cases call for compassionate ears (pun intended).
Here is how to inject a bit of mindfulness into your conversations:
- Breathe in and out. This is the most important part. Keep tap of breathing even and especially when you are listening.
- Maintain a half-smile will help too (especially when the other party is sorta mad at us).
- Listen to the other person. Don’t try to come up with a reply. Just simply listen and imagine the things they are describing.
- Keep tap of your breathing the whole way through.
- Viola, you’re done.
I know it sounds very simple, but it works like magic. I remember being very mad at my students who decided to plagiarize in my writing class when the only rule I enforced was to not cheat their souls in writing. When I found out, I felt incredibly affronted as if they deliberately intended to hurt me! Thankfully, I could not express my anger right away because classes wouldn’t start until that evening which gave me half a day to cool down, so I decided to take a mindfulness approach in questioning them instead of ugly sobbing and yelling about artist integrity.
During the whole conversation, I kept my feelings to myself and sought to solely listen to their sides of the story. One was too stressed with exams; the other with homework. Just sitting there, listening to their stories have curiously made me happier. I can still recall the feeling; it was like having a flower bloom in your heart; you just feel so much compassion for the people in front of you, you know (God knows I’ve had enough stress with exams and homework too). Before the conversation, I only expected mindful listening to prevent me from lashing out; by the end of the talk, I was not only calm, but even a little happy.
It’s such a curious turn of events, and if you don’t buy it, try it out for yourself! In your next conversation, pretend to have lost your voice for a change and listen for the sake of listening only. You might just end up with an expected golden rose in your chest!