Speaking without listening

By Elaine Isaacson. Elaine is from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

If listening was easy we wouldn’t have war, or problems with compromise. It is easy then to understand why in a world with so many voices and opinions, so many cultures and ideals, that there is such difficulty in listening to and responding to what is being said.

We are human, are we not? Our minds are filled with our experiences both past and present and when someone starts to speak we want to respond as soon as a thought or an idea pops into our head. Especially if what the other person is saying is a hot topic, something that makes us “feel” something. Especially if it is something or someone we have been morally opposed to or somehow we feel threatened.

It is then a discipline to hear first and respond next truly if someone is attacking something you believe in. Will you let them off the hook by allowing them to complete their derogatory exposition?

Who better than ourselves knows right from wrong? We all believe we are right and if someone is saying something else then we believe they must be wrong. Does interruption then make perfect sense?

Wars arise from greed and the belief that others are less and can be easily taken advantage of and exploited. We do not listen. We find it difficult to compromise. We do not work together because we don’t believe those who oppose us have any relevance or right to get what they want or need. We are superior, our egos take precedence.

Should we give a voice to someone whose opinion differs from our own? In this regard it is problematic only because if what they say seems better or more eloquently stated than what we think, our egos and our own beliefs are threatened. We will have to change. Therefore, is it worth listening? Do we then just allow the bully who is our self continue through life pursuing the idea of survival of the fittest without regard to human kind or their worth by spouting off and not giving someone else a chance to speak? Is it true their opinion means less than our own?

What if the person is talking about someone or something that we love? What if the subject is a subject that has nothing to do with threatening our life but more our justification of how we live our life? What if the topic is agreed upon by every person in the room but you?

I struggle with the need to keep my mouth closed. I am a person who likes to give my opinion and help whenever I can. I believe that it is more important for me as I get older to listen more than I speak. Often, the solution I am about to offer is spoken aloud before I have a chance to say it. Sometimes the subject I think is being expounded upon is not the subject at all and often I find if I wait, I am able to make more sense with the words that I speak than I otherwise would have had I interrupted and gave my opinion before allowing the others an opportunity to give their own.

This is not to say that there aren’t times when things are being said that are hurtful when interruption is the necessary next step. The truth is we must allow the respect to others in this life the respect we garner for ourselves. It is not easy to listen before we speak but it is better, just as it is better to look before we leap.

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