The forgotten art of listening.

The art of listening is a long forgotten art of communication. We love to applaud orators and public speakers, often reciting their lines over and over until it becomes our motto. However, when it comes to extending the same courtesy to listeners, we are not as quick to do it as we should be. We rarely show them our gratitude and appreciation for being there for us and lending us their ears. Listeners are just as important as speakers; one cannot fulfil its purpose without the other. The business of becoming a good listener primarily consists of getting rid of bad listening habits and replacing them with their counterpart skills.

Most people can’t differentiate or don’t know the difference between listening and hearing. Listening is something that you consciously choose to do. it requires concentration and the processing of information from words and sentences. It also leads to learning, either subconsciously or consciously. Hearing, however, is simply what you perceive by ear. It happens whether you want it to happen or not, unless you’re hearing impaired. It is an unending process; you hear even while you are asleep.

Since humans are social beings, we crave intimacy with other people. We need someone to talk to or share our feelings with. Conversations are an amazing way to vent out frustrations, express excitement, seek entertainment, pass time, give instructions, pass on messages, dull the pain of heartbreak and seek comfort, etc. If there is no listener, the speaker cannot fulfil these needs. It can lead to added frustration and pain. The speaker may feel sad and lonely, thus feeling inadequate or friendless. Lending them your ears is a great way to help them and be there for them. When you listen better, people like you better and will be drawn to you more. You’ll be a better friend, partner, lover, teacher, employee, parent and human, in general. Overall, you’ll be a happier person just by being there for them and listening to them talk.

Listening is intermittent; it includes responses from the listener and is not just a continuous blabber from the speaker. Listening is a learned skill; not everyone is born a good listener. It requires practice and constant observation of conversations happening around us. Listening is an active action; it calls for both parties to be an active participant and converse in equal parts.
Just because you’re quiet does not mean that you’ve mastered the art of listening.

We all know what makes someone a good listener; listening in rapt attention, understanding the situation and the tone of the speaker, giving out appropriate responses, etc. but what makes someone a bad speaker? Here are top 3 actions that make you a bad listener.

1) You fake listen – The pose of chin propped on hand with gaze fixed on the speaker does not guarantee good listening. Having adopted this pose, having shown the overt courtesy of appearing to listen to the speaker, the bad listener feels conscience free to take off on any of a thousand tangents.
Good listening is not relaxed and passive at all. It’s dynamic; it’s constructive; it’s characterized by a slightly increased heart rate, quicker circulation of the blood, and a small rise in bodily temperature. It’s energy consuming; it’s plain hard work. The best definition I know of the word attention is a “collection of tensions that can be resolved only by getting the facts or ideas that the speaker is trying to convey”.

2) You are distracted – Bad listeners are easily distracted and may even create disturbances that interfere with their own listening efficiency and that of others. They squirm, talk with their neighbours, or shuffle papers. They make little or no effort to conceal their boredom. Good listeners try to adjust to whatever distractions there are and soon find that they can ignore them. Certainly, they do not distract others.

3) You get too emotional – It is a fact that some words carry such an emotional load that they cause some listeners to tune a speaker right out: such as, affirmative action and feminist-they are fighting words to some people.
I sometimes think that one of the most important studies that could be made would be the identification of the one hundred greatest trouble-making words in the English language. If we knew what these words were, we could ring them out into the open, discuss them, and get them behind us. It’s so foolish to let a mere symbol for something stand between us and learning.

Listening occupies a big chunk of the time we spend communicating in the language. Think about the times you spend listening to others speak or listening to songs, news, lectures, YouTube, etc. Recent advances in technology have served to raise the profile of the listening skill in language teaching, provides input that can be very significant for second language acquisition in general and for the development of the speaking skill in particular. It promotes non-linear processing of language and encourages learners to develop “holistic” strategies to texts. Being a good listener can help you to see the world through the eyes of others. It enriches your understanding and expands your capacity for empathy. It also increases your contact with the outside world by helping you improve your communication skills. Good listening skills can provide you with a deeper level of understanding about someone’s situation, and helps to know what words are best to use or which words to avoid. As simple as listening (and acknowledging) may seem, doing it well, particularly when disagreements arise, takes sincere effort and lots of practice. The process of listening includes receiving the information, selecting the important parts, interpreting the conversation the same way that the speaker intends it to be, understanding the conversation, evaluating it and coming to a conclusion or finding a solution. Keenly listening to people can help them relieve stress, alleviate emotional pain, heal mental scars, etc.

Listening with rapt attention does not cost anything other than our time, which we’ve got in plenty. It can change lives as well as save lives. It’s important to keep in mind that listening not only happens through your ears, but also through your heart. Listening includes sympathizing, emphasizing and looking at things through the speakers perspective. If we all just stopped for a moment and took the time out to hear people out, this world with be a very different place, with fewer misunderstandings and more happiness around.

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Chair of death

The sound of his footsteps were the only sound that could be heard in the darkness of the night. Cursing his habit of wandering, he looked around at his unfamiliar surroundings and felt a shiver of uneasiness. A lone antique shop stood there, surrounded by trees. Inside was a chair, almost like a throne, so magnificent, he was drawn towards it. The description read ‘A nightmare for some. For others, as a saviour I come. My hands, cold and bleak, it’s the warm hearts they seek.’

Making a comeback with life updates :)

Hey hey, I just realized that I’ve been gone for this amazing platform for more the 4 months, so I’m back from my mini hiatus, sorry.

Anyway, an update on what I’ve been doing since I had disappeared:

• Sketching – Sketching is something that I’ve always wanted to do but never had the motivation? mood? idk… I just couldn’t get myself to sit and start. I once jokingly told my brother, “If I had started drawing when I was a kid, I’d be an artist by now” and the next day he gifted me a sketchbook (bless him). I think that was the push I needed because now, I regularly sketch (finally)

My first ever sketch.

• Exercising – I’ve never been an active person. Always sitting, either to read, write, study sketch, or waste time on the internet. I hate going out and am indoors 70% of the time which explains why I was turning into a potato. So I took matters into my own hands, saved up, got my gym membership and am now trying to workout regularly. I feel too lazy at times but meh.

• Stanning BTS – One of the best things that has happened in my life. Finding BTS was a life changing moment. They are so inspiring and have influenced almost all of my ‘life updates’. They make me wanna better myself and live to my full potential. Most importantly, they’ve thought me how to love myself and how important it is.

• Creating a YT channel – This one is still in the planning process. But basically, the plan is to make a YT channel with my best friends and talk about our day, life in general, vlog, and show life through the perspective of 3 different people.

• Mentorship programme – I entered into a mentorship programme as a mentee. My mentor will give me advices, guidance, help me with what I should do, how and help me unlock my true potential. I still don’t know much about it but we have our induction on the 5th of August. Hope it goes well.

• Learning driving – This is by far, the most scariest thing I’ve tried. I mean, I’m not scared of driving. Its infact, very enjoyable. What I’m scared of is the roads in Mumbai and the crazy people who drive around me. If you don’t already know this, Mumbai traffic is worse than NY traffic and almost no one here follows traffic rules. It’s a nightmare.

• Skin care routine – Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of acne breakouts on my face and it scared me into action. I now follow a proper skin care routine, and include detoxification once in two weeks.

• Strengthening bonds – I used to reply late to messages, leave people on read, back out of hangout plans and ignore calls. Basically, I was the worst friend/person to contact/ ever! I knew it’s a bad thing but I was so caught up with something or the other, god. Been working on that, and trying to reconnect with people whom I lost contact with.

• PEN PAL! – I made a pen pal. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and now finally, I did it. My first ever pen pal. I’m so excited, I can’t. I’m going to shop for art supplies and stationary tomorrow. I also have to click pictures of famous places around Mumbai. I’m planning on adding that with the letters and some goodies because she loves traveling and photography. I can’t wait to get my happy mail (we’re doing it through snail mail).

To love them, so that others can’t take them.

To love them, to know them and touch them, to be familiar with who we are and what we need.
To satisfy ourselves, to teach our lovers to satisfy us, to speak of them out loud, to speak of their hunger and pain and loneliness and humor, to make them visible so they cannot be ravaged in the dark without great consequence, so that our center, our point, our motto, our dream, is no longer detached, mutilated, numb, broken, invisible, or ashamed.

Mental Illness.

[A really lengthy post]

People assume you aren’t sick
unless they see the sickness on your skin,
like scars forming a map of all the ways you’re hurting.
My heart is a prison of “Have you tried?”s.
Have you tried exercising? Have you tried eating better?
Have you tried not being sad, not being sick?
Have you tried being more like me?
Have you tried shutting up?

Yes, I have tried.

Yes, I am still trying.

And yes, I am still sick.

Sometimes monsters are invisible, and
sometimes demons attack you from the inside.
Just because you cannot see the claws and the teeth does not mean they aren’t ripping through me.
Pain does not need to be seen to be felt.

Telling me there is no problem
won’t solve the problem.

This is not how miracles are born.

This is not how sickness works.

I understand how it feels to look calm in the outside but you’re deeply broken in the inside.

I understand how it feels when you’re being frank to people; telling about you’re facing a mental illness – where you have to fought valiantly everyday with the deep darkest thoughts in your brain and how did people react? They laugh and tell me to “fuck off because you don’t look sick” or “you don’t look mentally disabled”.

I understand how it feels to fight with our societies stigma that mental illness is a taboo – as we are unacceptable in society.

I understand how it feels when you have to battle with sudden suicide and self harm plan in your head.

I understand all those shit

I have to battle with my depression and anxiety; everyfuckingtime.

It is a hard cycle to conquer. The body is working against you. And because of this, you feel even more despair. Which only amplifies the imbalance. It takes uncommon strength to live with these things. But I have seen that strength over and over again.

And yet, trust me, there are some people who don’t believe this.

To my fellow friend who is in the same journey as me – to battle with our mental illness – you’re not alone ; keep fighting and let not your mental illness define you ❤