Why did God give us two ears and only one mouth – learning to use our most under utilized secret weapon

February 21, 2012

Listening is seldom considered a vital life skill unlike speaking well, memorizing or even the ability to do mental arithmetic. This could be one reason why for most of us (including moir), it remains such an underappreciated skill set – that probably means, if we audit our skill sets, listening is probably one of our most undeveloped aspects of our character.

Is it a wonder then, most of us don’t even listen very well when we listen to others – if we take the trouble to step out from our own skin and watch the way we listen to others – what you might find is we seldom listen to understand. Rather when we listen, it is merely a process to reaffirm what is already there in our heads. In other words, we practice selective deafness and frequently cherry picked facts based on our previous experience, beliefs and biases.  

When I first started the journey to be a farmer – I realized many of the problems I encountered was due to my inability to listen deeply – that’s code for failing to understand the importance of listening deeply as a critical step in making an emotional connection with the thing that you desire to understand – it could be your better half, your boss or subordinate or even just a troubled teen who seems to be a free spirit. 

My point is whenever we fail to practice deep listening in our day to day conversations – what invariably happens is we fail to make vital connections that would have otherwise allowed us to understand people and events better. For me whenever I try to listen deeply, I am constantly aware of the need to prepare myself mentally first – I tell myself that I should first discard all preconceived ideas that I’ve either heard or read about that person. The second thing that I do to help me get into right attitude for listening is to switch off my phone and this I do very visibly to send out a very clear message to the person seated before me that he or she has my total and complete attention.

The goal is to develop one’s ability to focus fully on the moment and not be distracted by anything else.  It is a discipline in being present, and allows one not only to listen to what is being said, but more importantly, what is being communicated.

Try it out and I guarantee you results almost on the word go! If you are not happy, I can even come back and complain to me. I will listen. I will listen deeply.

Darkness 2012

Villager (crowd in tow): As you can see Devil, we have tried everything and yet our trees don’t seem to be fruiting. Has a cursed being put on our lands?

Darkness: Why do you all not listen to your trees?

Villager 2: What hocus pocus is this Devil?

Darkness: Your trees have been telling you for a whole season what they need – yet all of you choose to remain deaf. The leaves are yellowing at the tips, this speaks of a lack of magnesium – the fronts are crinkled at the top, she is telling you that boron is needed. As for the good earth, she too is screaming out at the top of her lungs, can you all not hear her, there are no earthworms. You have all been using too much herbicide. As for the fruits, they too are screaming so loud that I am going deaf, they are all pear shaped and this can only mean you have all been using the wrong manure. This tree is screaming for potash, yet what I see here is chicken dung and yet you all say, you have all been listening to your trees. Headman step forward! Am I right?

Headman: The Devil is right. He communicates with that other world. He is not of this world. The Devil is right. Please Devil forgive those idiots. We do not mean any disrespect. Be kind intercessor. Another thing before we take our leave, can you tell us all when the sun will scorch the earth?

Darkness: Headman teach your villagers how listen to the good earth. Now I do not mind that all of you call me the Devil. I am sure you all have good reasons to do so. But I think next time when you all come to my land to seek advice, you should at least bring better gifts for me. I am after all the Devil. Surely he deserves as much as that fellow up there who doesnt seem to be listening to all of you? So where is my seven bags of dog food? Do you realize my dogs have been speaking to me!

Villagers chorus: He speaks to his dogs! Oh my God!

Darkness: When will the men from the village work on the storm drains so that we may all have water? Are you all listening to me? 

(Excerpt of a conversation extracted from the Chapter of the Suriman Tales very recently – The Brotherhood Press 2012)

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