My father is a diligent professional. Even before the sun rises, his head is dug deep into a stack of smelly, dog-eared, mundane files. His chiseled fingers mechanically sign one file after another. I’ve always seen him working tirelessly like that for years. But, despite his engagements, he’s been a committed and a devoted father.
He makes sure that he is present at the dining table for every meal and is all ears to my chatter of random ramblings in life. I often accuse him of being a man of few words and he labels me a chatterbox! Jokes apart, it’s from him that I’ve learnt an important lesson in life. It pays to be an attentive listener. Father often talks about the significance of listening patiently to what the other person has to say, by vigilantly scrutinising the sentiments, the tone, the gestures and the intended meaning. As a child, I rubbished his life lessons as boring parent talk. It’s only now that I realise listening is a fast vanishing virtue.
I reckon this trend is being perpetuated by our educational system. A friend, Rishabh, sat for college placements recently where he went through rounds of group discussions before he was finally shortlisted for his dream company. Now, if you’ve ever participated in one of those discussions or have watched panel discussions on TV, you’ll know it’s all about lung power. Once the topic of discussion is floated, the mind is brainstorming points on the one hand and mindlessly rattling out those ideas in a jiffy, on the other. Moderators fail, panelists shout in an attempt to outdo their counterparts and win brownie points. Such a pity, that we don’t have the time to listen to what others have to say. Colleges are, in fact, laying more emphasis on the talking aspect and ignoring the importance of listening.
As time has wound its way through the cosmic clock, we’re all in a hurry to share our experiences and thoughts. Unfortunately, we don’t process information before we disseminate it or listen to the person were talking to. And that’s where the cookie crumbles.
I was congratulating my friend on his placement. Midway through our conversation, I interjected, “Hello? Did you even hear what I just said?” Unwittingly, I got a verbatim response of what I just said and the drab monotone was hard to miss! And that’s when my father’s sermon flashed in my mind, of the finer nuance between merely hearing and carefully listening.