Language is the most direct means of human communication. Speech is a way to express oneself and to vent one's feelings. Listening, on the other hand, is a process of understanding others. Unfortunately, most people enjoy speaking, but few learn to listen. A psychologist once said that when people talked to each other it seemed that one was talking while the other one was listening. However, the fact was, while one was talking, the other one was not listening. Instead, he was thinking about how to respond. If we only pay attention to expressing ourselves, we have not learned how to listen.
Significance of Listening
Listening is a process of finding out, understanding, obtaining and accepting the information from the outside world. Listening is learning. A person who knows how to listen is able to obtain a lot of information from others. He is able to learn things all the time. Listening to an elder's teaching is like reading a good book. One will accomplish more if he wants to learn from anyone he meets who is better than him. While listening to a friends' suggestion or opinion, one will learn new ideas, new technologies, and be more harmonious with his friend. Confucius said, "If three of us are walking together, at least one of the other two is good enough to be my teacher."
Listening may save one's soul. Listening may renew a broken heart and awaken the kindness hidden in an evil soul. A desperate person attempting to commit suicide may give up death and choose a new life if someone is willing to listen to him about his pain. A ferocious kidnapper may give up his evil ways and choose to surrender because a child is willing to listen to him about his painful life as a fugitive.
The Manner of Listening
First of all, be sincere. Heart-to-heart communication is the highest realm of communication. Sincerity is the foundation of such communication. Only sincerity can foster sincerity. A half-hearted attitude can be figured out by even a fool. No one will open his heart to someone who looks down upon him.
Secondly, be humble and equal. Without equality and respect, there is no true communication or exchange of ideas. Be modest and calm, and show respect to others. Be kind-hearted, calm and open-minded. Respect others and you will be respected. An arrogant attitude shuts the door to communication.
Thirdly, be patient and attentive. A good listener is not just listening passively, he will pay rapt attention and respond accordingly. Only when you listen attentively can you truly understand the other person. If you are absent-minded, you may lose an opportunity.
The Process of Listening
First of all, do not be too eager in expressing yourself. Be courteous, and invite others to express themselves first.
Secondly, forget about your own values and opinions for a moment. Empty your mind so that you can hear others. Do not cut in. Let others finish their story, express their feelings and vent their dissatisfaction. When you listen, use simple body language (such as smiling or nodding) to show that you are following the speaker.
Thirdly, do not be eager to reject the others after you hear them out. Do not jump to conclusions. This is dangerous and may cause misunderstandings. Give yourself time to think and judge.
What to Listen for
First of all, grasp the key points and understand the speaker's ideas. Enrich yourself with other's wisdom.
Secondly, pay attention to the speaker's emotion and mood. Get first-hand experience of the speaker's anxiety, resentment, sorrow, joy and happiness. Communicate and understand others.
Thirdly, figure out the implication and overtones. Discern the needs and wishes that the speaker may be too embarrassed to say explicitly.
Things to Pay Attention to
First of all, cultivate speech. Do not spread what you hear, especially issues concerning other practitioner's safety, rumors or hearsay about conflicts among practitioners. Keep those things to yourself.
Secondly, do not waver like duckweed and believe whatever you hear. Listening provides us a means of gathering information. However, listening does not replace our own analysis and judgment. We must not only learn to "listen", but also be able to "select" [the right information]. We cannot just listen to other's opinions and lose our own viewpoints.
No matter how capable a person is, he is just one person. When saving sentient beings, if everyone coordinates well, we have the most power to achieve the best results to eliminate the evil and save the sentient beings. This requires that we learn to communicate effectively. Every project and task requires us to work as a whole body, so communication is a most important issue. If we communicate well, we achieve twice the results with half the effort. Otherwise, poor communication may lead to wasted efforts. Listening is the key to communication. We must learn to calm down to listen. We must not be flighty and impetuous, shut our eyes and ears, or stubbornly persist in our own opinion.
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