Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Barriers to Good Listening Skill. Are You Listening? Earth to Mars? Hello...hello...hello...

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Listening is such an important component in the communication process. Most people just prefer to open their big ugly mouths and talk incessantly rubbish. I am truly appalled by the extreme lack of listening ability in Corporate Malaysia. Now why do I say that? Imagine you're a subscriber to a telecommunications product, and you need some info about whether the package can be transferred to another account. Sometimes, the customer service officer doesn't get what I'm enquiring, and instead went into the whole little speech about the company's policy this and that. Hello, am I calling to listen to your know-all attitude?The whole point of making that call is actually a simple question, and yet she failed to understand my enquiry. This inability to listen extends beyond just the corporate realm, and into our daily personal relationships, our daily lives - be it political and economical like:
Street Protests
The Age of Haters
The Over Emphasis of Hardware over Software
How My "Friend" Make Plus-sized Looks Bad
City Folks' Sitting Culture (BM)
How to Identify Monsters Anywhere
Habits of Local Talent (BM)
Lessons learned from "Friends"
Malaysian "Mega-Structures" Hits & Misses

The inability to listen could cause major miscommunication, distortion of facts and misunderstanding that could in turn, positions that individual or company in an extremely bad light. What causes this inability to listen? I, for one, am a good listener. My students could attest to this fact, because I remembers what they told me. But it is very interesting to turn the focus around on people who refuses to listen, intentionally or otherwise. Below are 3 common factors that I've discovered in uncovering the reasons for the failure to listen.

"I must be perfect, I must be perfect,
I must be perfect." Are you mad?
1) Intolerance for Imperfection
This generation, or at least in mine, has such an amount of intolerance for people who are less than perfect than them. You earn less than me? Next. You're not driving a Mercedes? Next. You're still single? Next. Blame it on the demands of employers, who nowadays want qualifications that match precisely the job specifications. Blame it on your parents, who pushed you hard in achieving your best academic results. Anything less than perfect is out of the way. Everything must be A to Z, 1 to 10. Hence, if you're less than perfect, then you would get the least amount of my attention. Blame it on the media, where the magazines and TV shows only people who behaves in  a certain way (perfect?) that seem to always get the spotlight. Personally for me, I blame it on editing. Nowadays, most of us hide behind our cubicles or corner tables to avoid meeting colleagues to have a conversation. Why should we, when we can just IM or Facebook?

The problem with social media is its editing. They only show the "best" of who they are, and edit off the "imperfect" parts. Hence, who you are is actually an edited version of yourself, NOT your true self. Here's where we feed our self-worth with lies and seemingly unsubstantiated facts about who we are. We thought we are the best choice for this particular job, the best in everything to cut it short. To me, that is such a crock of nonsense. It's our world nowadays - nobody is real anymore, because nobody could even muster up a simple skill like listening.

2) Too Full of Yourself
When striking a conversation with another person, you need to provide a mental space for the other person to share his/her thoughts. Unfortunately, many people are just too full of themselves. Like a friend of mine who recently was single, but thanks to me got attached, is now so full of herself. She's the best example of the before and after scenario - the reason being when she was single, she possess the propensity to leave space for others to share their thoughts - no matter how dull or unimportant it may be. But once she got attached, her mind is all full about her relationship.  The other example is a single guy friend of mine, who babbled inconspicuously about all types of subjects without giving a second thought of the possibility that his opinions could be biased. To me, I can sense this is a cry for help for a person who is needing someone to listen to him - which I did, but then have to move on due to his overbearing persona. He's simply too full of himself. And not a pretty self, for that fact.

3) No Interest
It's so sad that so many people have very limited amount of interest that they pursue. Most of my so-called friends would tell me: go to work, come home, sleep. What a pathetic existence, isn't it? For me, I truly enjoy listening to even "rubbish" from strangers. The problem with people is now they only want to to listen when they can get something out of it to their benefit. It's a crying shame, because for the person with that intention, he/she will be suffering from a kind of myopic worldview. It's a mental illness, and thankfully it's curable. But many people are simply too ignorant to realise this fact. All they're after is their work and money, boyfriend and career. If you talk to someone who has totally no interest in anything beyond their current state, that person would simply not listen.

Put your hands out and say "I love myself"
Benefits from Listening
People doesn't know what great benefits await them - personally and even bigger things that will happen for them for simply listening. Firstly, through listening you learn more about who you are. Listening improves relationship. And one greatest benefit from listening - you might even change the world for the better. Yes, you can do all that, from simply listening.

So how do we become better listeners? Firstly, you must BE YOURSELF - your imperfect warts and all. Don't hide and be ashamed about anything because nobody really cares. To me, listening is so much fun. It's definitely a skill, no doubt - one that needs to be honed and sharpened like a knife. Listening opens up your mind. Especially hearing words from people who are so out of place, imperfect and some even downright scary, you should listen to them! This is the type of people that you'll get surprised of! Always remember, everybody has their own place in this world - it's not all about you. Lend a listening ear to people who has no importance or relevance to you whatsoever. If you have difficulties in listening, remember our Artiste Training Course is always here to, well....listen.

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