Listening is a hard concept to grasp. I define it as hearing plus understanding. So many times we hear someone’s words but don’t understand either what they mean or what perspective or experience led to the words you just heard.
I am fascinated by the recounting of a conversation someone had with another person. With great enthusiasm they retell what their discussion was about. During their report, I often find things that don’t make sense or that I don’t understand why they chose to say what they did.
So I ask if they can explain what they meant by what you just told me. Nine times out of ten, they can’t.
Conversation is so fast that we feel it demands us to respond before processing what we heard. I sense that many do not want to show others what they don’t know remaining quiet instead of being curious. Sometimes its as simple as our mistaken belief that only our point of view is right and no one else’s matters.
When this happens, our chance for real connection & learning disappears. Yes, we participate in conversations. Many times though, it is only superficial. Neither the person we talk to or ourselves learn much during the interaction.
“Can you explain..” is a great way to break this habit of always rushing to finish a conversation. Your presence in conversation can be cultivated when using this question.
By cultivating the habit of asking more often “can you explain”, over time you will find that your world will slowly expand and the impact you have on other people’s lives will grow as their world begins to expand too through your example.