It is no news that certain scenarios are capable of knocking us for just a brief moment. You are so shocked that you don’t know how to react.
After a while, you fully recover from the shock and get back to your feet. This does not mean you are weak; it’s just a reflex.
Imagine a scenario of a young man who was severely hit on his head by a heavy baton. He falls down, gazing at imaginary stars hovering around his head, and then stuck without a decision on what to do next. Many common scenarios can give you that feeling of indecision and they could come in different forms: It could occur when you misplaced or lost something so valuable you cannot proceed further in your sequence of actions without it, or when someone mistakenly or deliberately destroys your precious possession, maybe a new gadget.
- Not only do these scenarios cloud our judgment, but in most cases, we also lose our sense of balance to listen attentively. You are overwhelmed by the emotions that you become so controlled by them. How much would you listen if someone foolishly spills water on the floor on which lies some of your special belongings? Depends on who is involved, you’d care to say but sometimes the emotions can make you not listen well enough. Shortly, we shall explore some situations when you probably don’t listen well enough.
What I Mean By “Listening Well Enough”
Listening is a skill and an art that involves actively hearing what someone or a group of people has to say so that you can learn from it, gain a better understanding of it, or see their perspective of the subject matter. Listening has found several applications across different levels of learning, conflict resolution, and public speaking; oftentimes, you need to listen well enough before you can be listened to.
Just like any good behaviour, there are always times when you don’t feel like listening to other people. A few other times, you might be so exhausted or frustrated that listening to any reason is practically impossible. In this article, we are going to some of those practical scenarios when listening is difficult and how this awareness can help you become more conscious, aware or decisive.
In this regard, listening is the ability to stay calm to understand what someone is saying even when you might be tempted to speak.
Scenarios When You Are Not Listening Well Enough
- Forgiving without listening
- Hearing both sides of the story
- Listening well before rendering help
- Listening to reason when someone did something annoying
- Listening to instructions/teachings
Forgiving Without Listening
At first, ‘forgiving without listening’ looks great. It means you are genuine and unconditional in your forgiveness. You simply do not care what the offence is; you just go ahead to forgive.
When you forgive without listening to what they have to say, especially what prompted them to do what they did and the apologies, this may be described as forgiving too early and this is because it can affect the quality of your decision, the nature of your forgiveness or how the person perceives the act.
When you forgive too early, you sometimes don’t know the nature of the offence the person committed. This can make the individual feel insecure about the forgiveness they have received. It makes them think that when you finally open up to listen to the full details, you would not forgive them the way you just did.
Hearing Both Sides of The Story
In every story involving two or more parties, there are at least two sides to the story; with either side having valid points or reasons in favour of the person narrating it. It is particularly important to listen to both sides of a story so that you can get the full details of what is happening between the individuals.
This could be a case of conflict, where you are the third party and need to help them find a common point. It could be that you are favourably biased towards one of the parties. Listening well enough means that you should be willing to sacrifice your bias to give equal or almost equal attention to both sides of the story.
Listening Well Before Rendering Help
Have you ever asked anyone for assistance and all they did was give you money even before you had a chance to finish what you were saying? Also, this can feel great in many scenarios but not all.
Sometimes, help is beyond asking and receiving money. You might have to listen to some deep concerns of the individual instead of just trying to silence them by giving them money before they land. The point here is that, as much as you provide financial help and support to someone in need, you should listen well enough as well.
Listening to Reason When Someone Did Something Annoying
While it is true that there are no justifiable reasons for someone to offend you, there are sometimes reasons for their actions. Most times, offenders really deserve to get punished for their actions but in a minority of cases, they might be exonerated on account of ignorance.
Someone did something unexpected; maybe stepping on your toes while you sit comfortably. The usual response is reacting to the incidence harshly or violently.
Listening well begins with asking yourself the “why” questions – why did he do what he did?; why did she say that? Just like in the case of forgiving without listening well enough, not paying attention to why someone did what they did will make you over-react more often than necessary. It could turn out to be a mistake, they were not aware, or they made a usual joke but you were not ready to receive it.
Listening to Instructions/Teachings
Listening is not only a skill, it is also an art. I’ve said this countless times in this post but it’s for a reason.
When you listen, you fulfil two primary objectives;
- To acquaint yourself with the details, as in learning, conflict resolution, etc
- To give the teacher or speaker the impression that you are listening to what they say
None of these two reasons is unimportant. As you listen actively to the words of the teacher, you get more understanding of the concept that can enable you to pass exams or tests, equip you to be creative and productive in life, as well as make boost the instructor’s morale to continue teaching you.
Many times, you are too impatient to listen attentively to your instructor. Maybe you are exhausted after a half-day of work. If you can afford to leave so you can get some rest or get your mind prepared to listen, that would be useful. And if your unattentiveness is due to your sheer inability to stay focused away from the distractions, you got to learn to listen all over again.
The Most Important Questions In Listening
We already established two primary purposes for listening; to understand the depth of the situation at hand and to give the next person the reassurance that they are important. We also established the importance of asking the “Why” questions.
Aside from these, the question, “What is the way forward” is also one of the most important questions when listening to an event that is quite unfavourable but for which you can do nothing to change.
For example, someone spills water on the floor. The deed is done but you are angry at both the person and the action which is a normal reaction. However, when you ask the question, “What is the way forward”, it makes you more patient to listen to what they have to say and their “Why’s” for doing what they did.
Finally, it is important that you exercise empathy as much as you can. Empathy means you should try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, or try to think like them as you listen to them. That way you will understand things from their perspectives and understand them better. This applies to various types of listening, including academic or training purposes, conflict resolutions, etc.
Why did he spill the water on the floor? It’s possible it was a mistake. This establishes the reasons for the actions and whether he deserves a greater or lesser punishment.
What is the way forward? The answers to this not only allow you to recover quickly from situations you might find yourself in because of the actions of the individual; they also make you focus less on the person and more on the action.