Are you listening?Views — By Ratna Khemani on May 15, 2012 at 8:00 AM
My little son Vikram always knew I was not paying attention to him. Even when I was looking at him, he knew I was pretending to listen. My attention had strayed to matters of the garden, the kitchen or the cleaning or the maid. He was 2 years old then and absolutely correct. Children are extra perceptive.
Today, during the course of conversation skills in a class of 40 management students, I see exactly the same thing. Test their listening prowess and one would find that at least 50% are not listening. They may be hearing but they are not absorbing what I’m saying, as their mind has strayed somewhere else. While conversing, the most important aspect is to be able to listen to people and then make appropriate comments or reactions. Most of us hear but are not able to absorb what is said. Surprised? But it’s true.
In everyday life, how many of us pay attention to what is being said to us or what a friend is narrating at a party or a social do? We are awaiting our turn to express ourselves, even interrupting others while doing so. That’s why when we take yoga lessons, the most preliminary part of those lessons is to create awareness of the now and be conscious of the present.
Our brain processes the spoken word. So in short when we are supposed to be listening, we are actually thinking of putting our point across and planning on what to say. A house guest of ours, who is Chairman and MD of a multinational in the USA, was guest of honour at a dinner party recently. While driving back, he told me that it was the most wonderful evening he’d had since several years. “ They were brilliant people, all of them, Ratna and it was a pleasure to interact with them” What I’d noticed during the whole evening, was that he was speaking most of the time to the various little admiring groups , who laughed at his jokes and comments. Not many had, had a chance to speak, since he was monopolizing the conversation. In this case maybe they wanted to hear this emperor of enterprise and benefit from his experiences in industry.
The point I’m trying to make is, that we all love to hear our own voices and think we are the wisest, cleverest, wittiest speakers in the world. Given the chance we would like to speak whenever we can and on whatever, provided we have an audience. But pause awhile and gauge the situation. Give an opportunity to others to express themselves instead of trying to have it all and just be the centre of attention all the time. Take a bow when the applause is the loudest. Know when to stop and remember the best conversationalists are those who are the most avid listeners and have the best hearing prowess. This is also the best marketing skill. Master it and see the difference in your sales graph. This certainly does not mean that when you’re supposed to speak you choose to listen and create an uncomfortable sea of serenity.
You can write to Ratna Khemani at email@example.com or contact her at 020-25851976