It almost seems like a mantra of mine, I say it so often, "You can't decide for yourself if you're a good listener; your audience determines that."
We live in a hyper-connected world where we are constantly bombarded with information and stimuli. A world where listening seems to have become a luxury. So how good are we really at listening?
Listening is complex and requires much more than just using your ears. It is not something you can constantly and consistently do well. It depends on so many factors and so many nuances.
Many people think that because I am so passionate about this subject, I am always a good listener. Well, I am so not. Listening starts with a choice, but it is influenced by all kinds of factors, such as the person you are listening to, the environment, the time of day, the topic of conversation, and many more.
It also requires a certain amount of dedication and vulnerability to truly listen. You must be willing to open up, focus your attention entirely on the Other, to accept that what they have to say may affect you. It is an activity, an art, of respect, of recognition that the Other has something valuable to share.
But I like to remain realistic. The idea that we can listen to everyone all day, every day, is not feasible. It requires so much of us, so much energy. In the process, we also need to find time for ourselves for reflection and rest. It's a balance we have to find.
It's important to understand that it's okay not always to listen or be a perfect listener. For me, it's not about being perfect, it's about striving to improve every day, being open to reflection and response and staying aware of how we interact with others.
For me, Listening is a journey you take together; it is not a destination. It is a continuous learning process, a lifelong challenge.
It is worth taking this on with myself every day because good listening can strengthen my relationships with others, prevent misunderstandings and help me better understand and appreciate what others say. And then I hope people regularly experience that I have heard them.