“The art of conversation lies in listening”

I have recently noticed that we seem to be moving toward a society where people are far more concerned with talking rather than listening. Conversations have become somewhat superficial. It seems as though people are merely waiting for you to finish talking so that they can begin, without actually having absorbed any of what you’ve said.

In the words of Stephen Covey: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Perhaps it’s to do with the fact that society seems to have a much shorter attention span these days. I’ll often see cinema-goers pulling out their phones in the middle of a film to send a message or peruse one of the various social networking sites they belong to. I find that quite sad. People seem to be finding it harder and harder to concentrate any more; to retain information; to recall knowledge, and that in itself worries me. I feel it is indicative of a reduction in our intelligence levels.

The context of some of these conversations also troubles me. I feel like we now live in an age of self-promotion and the notion of humility has become foreign and is even deterred. Superficial interactions also seem to be used for acquiring contacts and interacting with a particular individual is dependent on whether it may benefit you and further your own progress.

The reason I am highlighting the above is that I have recently had a completely different interaction and I was quite taken back. It was the first time in a long while that I had a ‘real’ conversation with someone. By ‘real’, I am not simply referring to the fact that our conversations featured honest recounts of personal experiences or of the choice of topics of substance and importance, but also to the fact that the conversation was enlightening. It was not one-sided. We both participated and offered alternative viewpoints. There were debates and interesting questions were posed. I felt like I learned something from the discussion and that, in itself, is refreshing.

I feel that being listened to provides an opportunity for growth and self-reflection. When someone is sat patiently listening to what you have to say then you are given the chance to form your ideas and translate them in a way which perfectly reflects what you are tying to express. 

So I urge us all to listen more. To engage in stimulating dialogue with others and to acknowledge how much people may appreciate being heard.

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