Listen Up!

“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” ― Zeno of Citium

We live in a generation where a variety of factors compete for our attention. From an Instagram post to an email newsletter or even the personal relationship we have with family and friends. Because of this phenomenon, the human attention span is at its lowest ever.

Deer in the field with large ears

A study by Microsoft reveals that the average human being has an attention span of eight seconds before they move on to the next ‘interesting’ happenings. Listening and staying attentive has been affected by this and somehow put a dent in the sort of relationship people have with one another.

In dialogs or mainly arguments, people tend to stay quiet, wait for the other person to finish expressing their opinion – not to understand or reason mutually with them, but to reply and argue. In such situations, people immediately bounce back with a reply they have kept brewing, patiently waiting for the other person to stop talking. This way, good communication is not exchanged, the circle continues and the essence of listening is lost.

phone showing apps

Julian Treasure in his Ted Talk made a valid point when he pointed out that we are losing our listening and only 25% of what we hear is actually retained. Technology among other noise, can in many ways be said to be one of the highest factors of this phenomenon. People now tend to hide behind the safety of their screens and filtered profile images to ‘stay connected’ whereas the real human (personal) connection is gradually lost within what society perceive to be relevant.

We now live in a generation where friends who sit together to catch up, will in no time be carried away by their phones instead of actually paying attention and listening to each other. This has deeply affected millennial because slowly, some have lost the invaluable skill of confidently expressing themselves in real life situations. They are only experienced in ‘twitter war’ and the likes.

two friends having a happy conversation

Social media is already here, and it has come to stay, but as Carol Hoenig said in his article – In Praise of Solitude, we are seeking something “out there” while ignoring real sustenance, instead of engaging with each other or just ourselves. Because of this, when one finds themselves in a ‘rare’ situation where they actually have a meaningful conversation with someone, they tend to particularly cherish that experience and would not forget it in a long time. That sort of feeling is what should naturally be, but we are zoned into cyberspace already to understand what a real connection is or how to actually enjoy one by being an active listener.

a young boy sitting on a bench and looking at the horizon

Solitude – a state of being alone without feeling lonely is a skill that can lead to self-awareness. Many people cannot stand the idea of being alone, away from distractions and noise, and or the ability to be alone with their thoughts. When solitude presents itself unintentionally, some people would go lengths to seek for some sort of distraction instead of embracing it, because they cannot stand the thought of solitude – even for a little while.

Solitude is very different from loneliness. One chooses to be in solitude while loneliness is imposed by other people – this is not a conscious choice. In practicing solitude, the mind and body can be refreshed and restored.

To be a better communicator, one has to step out from that noise and actually LISTEN! Listen not to reply or argue but to actually learn and understand the other person’s perspective. Practice the art of solitude, clear the mind, think of nothing, turn off every distraction and enjoy the gift of knowing oneself beyond what society defines one to be.

And with every practice of solitude, a new perspective can be realized.