September 24, 2013

Conversation is a River. ~ Simona Rich

Most People Just Want To Be Heard

Where I live in South India, I witness many tourists, especially elderly ladies, talking endlessly to the Indian waiters who hardly know any English.

The waiters can’t judge or criticize the tourists as they don’t understand most of the things said, so this allows the tourists to fully open up and let all the unfairness they experienced and heart-breaking moments to flow out of them.

If only we could all have a person who actually listens to what we say and doesn’t criticize us.

It’s also a habit of most to give advice in response to what someone says. Usually the advice is not sought though—it’s the attention and the space that the person asks for.

Most of us aren’t present when we’re listening to someone speak. We’re waiting our turn to speak or reply if the trigger reaches that place in our ear that shouts, “I think the person has a wrong opinion about it!”

I don’t treat my conversations as war zones where I wait for the trigger in me to say, “She just said something I disagree with!” to start my attack. I treat a conversation as a river—I allow the person’s words to flow freely without being stopped by my arguments.

When I hear an opinion expressed that doesn’t resonate with me, I don’t voice this awareness. After all, that is My perceived “wrong opinion.” We all have different experiences out of which a unique judgment of things arises. It’s not that someone is wrong or right; it’s that we perceive it to be so.

This understanding allows me to be quiet and let the conversation flow despite of how many “wrong opinions” I hear.

I have a friend who never listens to anything I say but loves to talk about her life. I let her. I hear her and because I really listen, I can learn from her mistakes and things she did right in life. Even one-way conversation, therefore, can bring benefits if one gives space and attention and receives precious life lessons from another person in exchange.

When there’s no judgment, enough space and acknowledgment on both sides, the flow of conversation gets faster. Surprising content can come out, like suppressed emotions, unrelated to the conversation thoughts and deep impressions.

It’s good to let this all go and encourage the person to let it all out. This could be the best therapy in the world, if only people would stop judging each other and give enough space and awareness to express their selves.

Let’s not stop the river of conversation. Let’s try to encourage the free-flow of words. The river whose flow is not blocked remains pure and beautiful, yet when the flow is stopped the water gets stale.

People who let their frustrations and suppressed emotions out remain healthy. Those who don’t find any outlet and store everything inside manifest diseases and rot inside. Their toxicity can be felt as soon as you start a conversation with them, or even by observing them.

My hope is that more people would open up to listen and to hear, so that there would be less toxicity in the world.

Let’s kill the egoistic urge to correct a person or tell the reason why they’re wrong. Most people don’t want to hear that—we all just want to be heard.


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Assistant Ed: Edith Lazenby/Ed: Bryonie

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