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Shh... please listen

Please don’t do 10 things at once. Just do one - listen to the person with whom you’re speaking, advises Sonal Kalra.

sex and relationships Updated: Oct 21, 2008 17:30 IST
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
Hindustan Times

Trust me, Chaddhaji, the property agent, is unique. He has an amazing ability to speak non-stop. This may not be that unique but then he can close his ears to any other sound without using earplugs.

He even preempts your sentences when you’ve barely spoken half a word, that too in a completely bizarre, unconnected way. Sample this: a conversation between him and my friend Ana who went on a house-hunting spree with him.

Ana: I’d like to, er..
Chaddhaji (interrupting): Oh, I’ll have to ask the landlord if he’ll take the security amount in instalments.
Ana (completely perplexed): No, no, I just wanted to..
Chaddhaji (interrupting again): Oh, the broken fan in the bedroom. Well you may have to get it repaired yourself.

Confused.. uncomfortable
By this time, Ana, who just wanted to ask if she could use the washroom was not just confused and in acute discomfort from an about-to-burst bladder, but also alarmed about the instalment and the fan issues.

This happens when we don’t listen and just speak. And doesn’t that happen way too often? Think how many times, after having understood from the first few words what a friend or colleague wants to say, we don’t let them complete the sentence and jump to finish it ourselves, as if it’s a race to reach the full stop.

Ask a few people what the opposite of talking is, they’ll say, “Listening.” But actually, in today’s context, the opposite of talking is not listening; it’s just ‘waiting to talk’.

Many people want to be heard but rarely make the effort to listen to others. Phrases like ‘Allow me to finish’ have become common in corporate meetings and discussions.

Come to think of it, the phrase shouldn’t have been there at all. Isn’t it basic courtesy to let someone finish if they’ve started?

The possible exception being if the person happens to be a fan of someone like Atal Behari Vajpayee and gives pauses of such jumbo proportions during a sentence that one feels like grabbing a sandwich in the ‘interval’.

Pay attention
Anyway, the point is, we don’t want to listen. We are in a great hurry to blurt out as many words as possible, as if they are the main reason for indigestion, and not what we ate last night.

It’s like a quiz contest: finish the other person’s sentences as quickly as you can. But trust me, there are no prizes in life for that. Many great relationships and friendship have soured because of this annoying tendency.

So the trick to keep your calm is to shut up and pay attention to what the person is saying. Please don’t do 10 things at once. Just do one — listen to the person with whom you’re speaking.

First Published: Oct 21, 2008 17:17 IST