Often times when I’m working on fairs and selling vegan products I just talk and talk and talk. Telling the benefits of our products in comparison to others, explaining our company philosophy, making jokes and mainly am just busy sending and acting instead of receiving and reacting. Which isn’t totally bad, you just should be able to do both.
One day my boss came to me and asked me if I don’t see that people aren’t interested, that they don’t even look me in the eyes when I talk to them and merely stop by to listen to what I have to say, that they just came because we offer free samples of our food. He then told me to be more observing, look at the behavior and reactions and most important – LISTEN TO THEM.
Listening. A part so obvious and crucial yet it often gets denied because we think we have to and also because we want to speak. I don’t want silence to arise at my stall so I talk, basically reciting what I always do instead of individualizing it to the needs of my customers. That’s due to the fact that it’s uncomfortable to not have the total control and maybe even have to do additional work in reacting to their needs and requests.
Applied to normal life it’s the same. We often talk and want to get rid of our own thoughts and feelings and want compassion for that, instead to listening to some one else’s. That’s because we want to feel important and want to be acknowledged for that. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we never listen. We do listen and we also care about what the other person has to say but there is a difference between active listening and listening to reply and often times we do the latter one. Not because we aren’t interested but because it’s hard to shut up. Everybody wants to feel important and putting this essential need behind is hard and has to be learned.
If you start listening for the sake of listening and with the intention of really understanding what somebody else wants to say, a totally new experience will unfold before you. You will see things from a completely new angle and also will be able to empathize way better with the person than you used to before when you weren’t listening wholeheartedly. Another great thing is, that by actually listening and asking people and letting them talk, you’ll be likely to see their reasons for doing things they do and also perceive ideas of their dreams, wishes, values, expectations and much more. All of this will unravel in front of you like a solved knot.
So the next time, when you see somebody and engage in a talk with them, try to see if you can focus on listening and see for yourself if it makes a difference in understanding the other person and getting their point of view.
Yours Max Müller