Art of Conversation

Wife: You do not love me as you do not ever listen to me.

Husband: Of course I love you and baby I listen to you. Ok for example weren’t you talking about Mrs Sharma’s new car just now.

W: No I was not talking about their new car.

H: Of course you were. You said that they have got it this year, they got the best music system in it and that they are planning a road trip to a hill station now.

W: You heard what I said but you did not listen in.

H: Now what is that supposed to mean that I heard you but did not listen. Aren’t they the same.

W: You hear with your ears but listen with your heart. I was mentioning their car to tell you that we have not been making financial progress and that we also do not take any vacations anymore. Also do you remember the music system of our old car and how we sang romantic songs together while going on our weekly long drives. Oh how I miss those moments. So you heard my words but you did not listen to what I was saying.

H: Now what… am I supposed to be clairvoyant that I understand the hidden meaning behind your words. Cant you communicate in plain language as to what you mean.

W: Lots of time when I start a topic even I do not know what I mean. I discover my feelings as I am speaking the words. I rely on you to listen in, connect with the feelings behind the words as your connection makes a big difference. It gives my feelings a breathing space. I feel alive and validated when you fully listen to me.

H: But I do not agree to the fact that we are not making any progress. In fact financially we had the best year last year.

W: You can agree or disagree with content of my thoughts. That is not the point. Maybe even I would not agree with them later on. They are just a carrier of how I am feeling at that time. When I am communicating I crave your understanding of my state and not the factual critiquing of my thoughts.

H: I understand that but somewhere aren’t you blaming me for being a failure.

W: If you listen from your perspective you will feel that and personalization is a barrier to listening. Active listening is a non judgmental sport. From my perspective I am just articulating what is concerning me at the moment. So if you listen to connect, empathy results if you listen to respond, argument ensues.

H: How would you know that I have listened to you. I could keep nodding my head and still be zoning out.

W: Oh that’s easy to ascertain. First sign is that you let me speak without interrupting or do not get distracted by passing commotions and keep a recurrent eye contact. Secondly if you ask me questions to clarify my meaning or rephrase what I have said I will get a feeling of being connected and heard. In fact rimi our daughter was also saying that daddy seems pre-occupied these days.

H: So that’s her way of saying that I do not listen to her. Is it?

W: Yup. See when you tell her that she is the brightest and the best, without making an effort to listen to her talk, she senses a gap between your words and your actions. In fact, listening by paying full attention, is the best compliment you can pay to anyone in our family or our friends circle. Also did you know that listening to others makes you better at listening to your heart and gut. So you cannot become a better listener without improving your communication with yourself as well.

H: Oh I did not realize that listening is that big a deal.

W: It would make into any list of top 5 human skills to have, however do not feel too bad about not being a trained listener. Most people are inefficient at it. This is because we get maximally coached at our schools for writing, which is roughly 9% of our communication, reading which is 16% and sometimes also on speaking, which is around 30%. Listening though, which is about 45% or the largest segment in human communication is left unattended and is relegated to our own devices. Very few people individually train at it as most carry the mistaken belief, like humor, of being naturally endowed with it. The point to know is that it is a trainable and simple though never easy.

H: What is the main obstacle in listening to others which makes it such a hard skill to practice.

W: The voice in your own head that you keep listening to. Unless you know how to silence that it will keep drowning out every other voice that reaches you.

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