Listen Before Speaking

Listen Before Speaking

The question is not that we can or should be at work without a break but are we all listening? The human persona cannot just go on and on. It is logical to assume that even though the eyes and ears are physically open, most brains behind them are asleep at the core; which of course leads me to assume that we are most often making the right gestures but not registering anything.

As it is, the lawyers are known to be bad listeners. We are so occupied at saying our piece that our ears are perennially switched off. This is actually intelligent behavior as listening would presuppose that some demands may have to be acquiesced to. So we have this lovely scenario where everyone is yapping away but there is little or no attempt to ensure that it is all registering at the other end. And this is precisely the point I wish to make.

We have acquired some very self-defeating habits. I will take up two that I feel are the worst. One is the fact that our impatience is so acute that we do not think twice to butt in a conversation and the second is that we do so without ensuring that anyone is listening to us or not. First we disturb the two people at conversation and this shows the downside of our manners and then we expect to be heard first which shows the extent of our self-preoccupation. Then the worst part is that the person addressed to is unable to resist the call and responds and thereby adding to the mellee. So here I am standing in front of the judge, frightened of the consequences while my lawyer is trying to make a point and the judge starts listening to some other lawyer. How would you feel under the circumstances? We are all of us culprits and doing this all the time and as I have seen in India this is so common and acceptable a practice that no one is annoyed. This attitude also shows in our inability to form queues or wait our turn at the counter or even let the other guy finish his sentence.

But more to the point is the catastrophic situations that are being created at all times and the irritants that we are adding to our lives. We can’t sit still for a moment. With our laptop and mobile phone in hand we just have to be up and doing something. The brain and nerves are stretched out in hundreds of directions at the same time at any given time and I wonder if everyone is going a mile a minute then who is sitting still enough to bother to listen to me? Is it surprising that nothing gets done properly and our achievements are all half baked or need immediate correction when done? It is no secret that quite often we discuss and argue a project or subject into such a confusion that all that remains to be done is bury it.

Communications have now become incessant and we are all expected to be at our listening posts at all times so of course the antidote is to shut off the process.

I give an instance from my personal life. Magnify and transpose these small incidents and possibilities into other instances and you will understand the magnitude of the point being made.

Yesterday, I was sitting watching TV but because my wife was talking to me in her usual style which means that from out of the blue she will start talking and expect me to take it all in, most probably from somewhere at my back with her face diametrically in the opposite direction. So when my ears registered that she was talking to me I instantly switched my attention to her otherwise bouncers would start flying at me and of course asked her to repeat. My child was playing nearby and there was nothing to bother about the scene at all. Just then, it seems, the maid brought me a hot cup of coffee and placed it on the table within the reach of the child while I was looking away. The child all of 20 months old, lovingly and helpfully picked it up and started putting it in my hands – all this while I was not even aware of the coffee. Of course as things would be my waving arm hit the cup and the poor child dropped the coffee in my lap; I shrieked and the child bawled in consternation and now I am nursing a burn; and, god forbid, if the coffee had dropped on the child? Gosh, I am afraid to think of it. I asked the maid why she left the cup within the child’s reach without informing me and she replied that she did tell me! But I was so engrossed at listening to my wife that I did not hear her!! She knew that I had not heard and yet she did not try to ensure that I be made aware of the hot cup at my elbow. When I asked why she had left it within the child’s reach she replied in all honesty that the possibility of a mishap did not enter her mind. So that was that!!!

Simple Solution; first attract the lawyers/judges attention, then, when certain, then alone speak to him/her directly with eyes meeting. And for good manner’s sake please wait your turn.



– prof. Pradeep Maheshwari

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