Listen to hear – assume to mistake

Listening is the most important skill you can have. It is the base of everything. Without being a good listener, you can’t feel the world around you. You’ll miss all the wonders life has to offer. And you won’t be a good conversationalist. Listen, and you will hear.

And to be clear, one does not need the sense of hearing to be a good listener. Other senses can be of use too.

Dare to listen

One advantage of talking to yourself is that you know at least somebody’s listening.

Listening can be daunting. What if someone or something challenges your view of life? Can you respect that other view, or do you feel threatened by it? That is one of the key points of being a good listener. To be able to distinct what the other party is actually saying to you, and what you are assuming they are saying.

Daring to listen openly, means putting yourself mentally vulnerable to everything. The more you try to shield yourself from possible conflicts, the more you’ll create them without even noticing. And the actual point of the conversation is already lost. Blocked and distorted by your mental shield. The only way to truly interact with the world and people in it, is to leave your comfort zone.

Stick figures learn to listen

I decided to put my Paint Gimp skills to use. (With some help from Google image search because come on, I can’t draw.)

You This is You.
You in your comfort zone This is You inside your own comfort zone. Here no one can question your beliefs nor make you uncomfortable. Here, you are happy.
Your friend And here is your friend inside their own comfort zone.

Now you two are going to have a conversation. A controversial conversation. And you both have strong and differing opinions about it.

A conversation This is You with your friend having a normal conversation. Your friend says something, and you hear what they say.
Assumed conversation Now what happens, if You are not totally present in the moment. Whether you are thinking other things or feeling uncomfortable about the situation and trying to shield yourself from possible mental distress. You don’t ‘hear’ what they are saying anymore, you are ‘assuming’ what they are saying.
A question As it tends to happen in conversations, a question is presented. You answer it guilelessly thinking that the answer matches the question. But since you didn’t actually ‘hear’ the question…
Chaos They don’t understand what you are talking about. You don’t understand why they don’t understand. Everybody is unhappy.

Listening requires courage

Listening openly and living without unnecessary restrictions requires a lot of courage. To be really ‘out there’ means leaving the comfort zone behind. Not abandoning it, just stepping outside of it. I know it is hard. I know it is scary. But I also know how liberating it is! The things you can discover, the things you can see, and the things you can hear when you don’t restrain yourself, is really magnificent.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone