The modern age, characterized with its ever-increasing speed and huge technological innovations, has influenced mankind to a great extent. From the African culture of gathering kids for moonlight tales at night, to the Asian custom of dining with extended family members at the table; the advent of technology has drastically altered the lifestyle of most people. They now enjoy solitude and even seethe with irritation at the slightest intrusion into their private quarters. It appears as though there has been a reprioritizing in man’s value system. The things man once cherished, the things that once mattered now hold no place of significance. The writer, from keen observation concurs with Stephen R. Covey that, “most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”.
Man is a social being whose heart craves for love, care and support. Social media, which is supposed to be the agent that connects humanity together, has only succeeded in bonding people superficially. The regular man in the 21st century has been starved of intimate love which can be derived from personal time spent with others and not just while having some delusional conversations on the internet. There has been a paradigm shift in the way a man perceives another. In ancient times, men sought to fully understand not just the words of another, but even the gestures. The present-day man has access to unlimited information on the internet and hence presumes ‘there is nothing new about this’ or ‘I have a fitting answer to this’. They fail to realize that the intent of communicating might not be to get a response, but to be listened to. Some psychology-related researches have revealed that the average man needs to know that he is accepted and well-perceived by the other and not just responded to. The Holy Book advises that “…we should be quick to listen, but slow to give a reply”. Man has two ears and one mouth, the logical reason is most likely so that he can listen more and talk less.
The pace at which the present age is moving has gotten people’s heels running after their feet. People no longer have time to assimilate what the other is saying. They just give their wishy-washy replies and move on to do the next thing on their to-do list. Busyness has apparently become the business of man. The typical man has perfunctorily reordered his priorities in such a way that he does not have room for “frivolities” – including listening to other people talk (especially about an issue that does not directly have an impact on them). The ostensible yardstick for determining the 21st century smart-fellow is by how many schedules he keeps. This has inevitably set man’s feet on the ‘Fast-Lane’. “There is no time to even check time,” has become the anthem of some people.
The virtue of patience seems to have lost its standing. Most people have now become self-centered, less caring and even unconcerned about the speaker’s feelings or emotions. Pride and close-mindedness seem to be the sole reason why some other people would never listen to understand others. They hold their opinion in such high esteem and expect everyone else to do so rather than they themselves striving to look from the standpoint of the speaker. Some inadvertently misconstrue the speaker’s statement while others go to the extreme of singling out a point and using it against the speaker. They fail to sum up the various activities involved while a speaker is communicating to them.
Talk is cheap, listening is not. It involves the conscious activity of giving maximum attention to someone, deciphering their words and gestures and finding out deep and implied meanings from their speech. Listening involves not just the ears but also the eyes, emotions and an understanding of the context in which the speaker speaks. Until when people’s value system changes and they realize how much boost their attention stands to give to another’s self-esteem, will they give room for listening to understand, rather than merely to reply. Theodore Roosevelt rightly observes: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”