THE ART OF LISTENING

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To listen is to learn. To learn is to grow.
Sadly in today’s hyper connected world we are so busy talking, mailing, texting… we are forgetting to listen. And the loss is ours.
As babies we would not have learnt to speak if we had not listened. Speech and language is a gift of listening. We would not have been educated if we did not listen in class. We have religions because the disciples of great teachers like the Buddha and Guru Nanak listened and noted down what they said.
We build human bonds – make friends, fall in love, discover interesting people – by both talking and listening. We find solutions to our problems by listening to the advice of people.
You are not listening if you have your mobile pinging next to your plate at the dining table while your spouse or child is telling you something important.
You are not listening if your laptop stays open and within reach all day.
You are failing as a friend when you interrupt a conversation to take your five hundredth selfie of food at a restaurant.
We don’t deny that gadgets and the social media are useful and exciting but should they control your life? When your WhatsApp screen, Facebook page or your Instagram account is your best friend you have ceased to be a family member or a friend to real people because you are not listening.
Think. Will the world come to an end if your link to the social media was disconnected for an hour while you took your child for play time in the park? Or you had a cup of tea with a parent? Discover again the joys of talking and listening, taking it slow and relaxed, face to face.
There is a lovely Bengali tradition called adda where a group meets regularly to discuss any topic under the sun – politics, music, books, even food and cooking. An adda has one rule–when a person speaks the other stay silent and listen. You can disagree later but you do not interrupt. You gain knowledge, you share laughter and you argue passionately and come away mentally revived.
During a crisis your Facebook friends can only send a line or two of sympathy. It is the people around you, family, friends, colleagues, neighbours who will stand by you. So talk to them and get to know them better. The art of listening is the art of patience and courtesy. It is finding in us the ability to care.
Next time you go for a walk, take off the headphones. The koel singing among the trees, the laughter of children, the call of a vegetable vendor, the breeze against your skin… listen, feel and let the world enter.

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