Listening to People’s Adversities

A better person is made through adversities in life. It is easy to conclude that it is normal for a human to face problems. But in reality, no human being can be immune to emotional burden. These last few weeks, a lot of my friends turned to me to tell me their problems – regarding family, study, engagement, marriage, self-belief and friendship. At a point, it got me thinking, “Am I a people-pouring-heart magnet or something?” ~Does such thing even exist?

It is not a bad thing to me. I’m glad that my friends felt calm after pouring their heart out. Furthermore, when I look closely, it is actually a good thing. Hearing my friends’ problems has made me able to see my obstacles in life from different perspectives. They gave me new insights without them noticing – my problems seem small, tiny and little compared to theirs. I’m so grateful for this.

I’m still learning deep listening skills. I did my 10th project in Toastmasters about emphatic listening. This is where my knowledge is tested because translating what we read into action is so difficult. To listen deeply (or, emphatically) is to listen without prejudice – that is to make no assumption at all about that person. I still couldn’t find a way to not make assumption to anyone that I’ve already known! Say, you know a friend who eats a lot. How do you listen to him/er when this friend tells you “I am frustrated because it is hard to find my size when I shop for clothes” without having “But you eat a lot” in your mind? And this is only one assumption for one case. Any human makes hundreds of assumptions daily. How exactly do we stop making assumptions for a few minutes when listening to this friend?

Another important point about emphatic listening is we must let ourselves be influenced by the other person before trying to understand his/er points. This is the part where we learn so much about other people’s problems and use their cases to face our own. For example; I used to think that when a man and a woman can’t get along as friends, their marriage will most probably fail because, to me, romance fills the first few years of marriage but friendship is the one sustaining it. But when I listened to a friend, it seemed that my opinion was wrong – there are a lot of factors pertaining to a happy marriage. I had let myself be influenced by her opinion and then I was able to listen to her.

But to let ourselves be influenced is a very risky move. It takes a great deal of security. In my case, letting my opinion changed was a risky move. The listener is more vulnerable when listening to issues related to core beliefs or values. To be influenced is to be changed deep inside by the speaker.

I’m grateful to HIM for giving me the chance to learn from others. I thanked my friends for teaching me, even without noticing. A famous person said:

“Life is too short to experience everything. That’s why it is mandatory we learn from other people’s problems.”

Thanks, in advance, for your feedback.

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