When Valmiki completed his Ramayana, Narada wasn’t impressed. ‘It is good, but Hanuman’s is better,’ he said.
‘Hanuman has written the Ramayana too?!’ Valmiki didn’t like this at all and wondered whose Ramayana was better. So he set out to find Hanuman.
At Kadali-Vana, grove of plantains, he found Ramayana inscribed on seven broad leaves of a banana tree. He read it and found it to be perfect. The most exquisite choice of grammar and vocabulary, precise and melodious. He couldn’t help himself and started to cry.
‘Is it so bad?’ asked Hanuman ‘No, it is so good’, said Valmiki.
‘Then why are you crying?’ asked Hanuman. ‘Because after reading your Ramayana, no one will read mine,’ replied Valmiki.
Hearing this Hanuman simply tore up the seven banana leaves stating, ‘Now no one will ever read Hanuman’s Ramayana.’
Why Sri Krishna did not save the Pandavas when they played dice with Duryadhana & Shakuni
Since childhood, Uddhava had been close to Krishna, charioting him and serving him in several ways. He never asked for any wish or boon from Sri Krishna. When Krishna was at the verge of completing his life’s mission on earth, he called Uddhava and said, “Dear Uddhava, in this avatar of mine, many people have asked and received boons from me; but you have never asked me for anything. Why don’t you ask for something now?”
Even though Uddhava had never asked anything for himself, he had been carefully observing Krishna since his childhood. He had always wondered about certain contradictions between Krishna’s teachings and actions, and had always wanted to understand the reasons for these apparent or real contradictions.
So he asked Krishna, “I have observed that several things you have done or not done in your life were different from what you have always taught or stood for. I truly wish to understand why — for instance, during the great yuddha, the role you played confounds me to this day. I’m curious and wish to understand. Will you explain?”
Krishna said, “Uddhava, please ask without hesitation.”
What we often fail to comprehend is that active and assertive listening is THE most important communication skill. In fact, we usually put more effort in how we can get our point across and become more assertive in what we ask and express, than actually realize the significance of our listening skills. We tend to forget that communication is a mutual process of listening to the other and expressing ourselves.
Today our focus will be what prevents us from listening actively and attentively. By recognizing the 12 blocks to listening and realizing when we engage in those, we can subsequently improve our listening skills. This will inevitably bring positive changes in the way we communicate with others.
After all, listening does mean not just hearing with our ears, but actively being mindful and attentive of what is being expressed, so that we first understand it fully. You are what you listen to- and this does not only apply to music!
The 12 Blocks to Active Listening
If you often find yourself in situations that you cannot communicate with someone properly, maybe you are also not listening properly.
Of course it is understandable that we can not always give our full attention to whoever is talking to us- yet understanding what prevents us from doing so is a first step in making necessary adjustments in order to improve our communication. Let’s look at 12 common blocks to listening.
1. Mind Reading
Have you ever caught yourself drifting away from what the other person is saying, because you are already making an assumption in your mind about what they will say?
Although this is to some extent natural and automatic in many conversations, and it may suggest that you understand the other quite well so that you can already guess what they’re about to say, mind reading can become an obstacle in your communication with others.
The reason for this is, the more time you invest in trying to figure out what will be said next, the less involved you are with the present moment and the other person.
After all, no matter how well you know and understand your conversational partner, you are not really in their head- so it is beneficial to actually listen to them rather than presuming you know their next sentence before they utter it.
We can all be guilty of this occasionally; rehearsing means preparing what you will respond next, before your partner has finished talking.
This can often be accompanied by interrupting the other, to say what popped in your mind- which can take a negative turn quite easily, because interrupting is regarded as quite offensive and aggressive and can trigger a defensive attitude of the other person.
Then your focus is on constructing your next argument, not on the person talking to you. Consequently, you focus on yourself and not the other- but listening is all about the other.
It can therefore be worthwhile to pay close attention to them for a bit- it won’t be long until you also have a chance to speak. In addition, the more attentively you listen, the better you will absorb and understand the other’s message- so the more authentic you can be in your response.
Filtering means having selective attention only to certain types of information, and letting your mind drift away otherwise.
We tend to use filtering when we want to ensure we are not threatened, or when we expect or wish to hear specific things from the other.
For instance, if you feel you are in danger if the other becomes upset, your attention may be more tuned to cues of increased emotion of the other. If the threatening cue is not present, then you can be distracted by your own thoughts and lose concentration.
Understandably, this is a block to effective communication because you do not receive the whole message of whatever the other wants to say- only fragments of it. You basically hear only what you want to hear.
Judging means having a negative opinion that is already firmly established about the other person, or making negative criticism in your mind about what they are saying.
By making judgements or assessing that the other person is not worth listening to, you close yourself from actually hearing what they have to say. Being open and flexible is always an advantage in communication.
Something the other just said triggered a memory, image or thought in your mind- and then you got carried away on your train of thought.
You know how it goes, one thought let to another, and another, and off you go! Suddenly you are disconnected from your partner, lost in your own mind, drifting away. Or you simply lost interest and therefore concentration.
Often when you return to the conversation, you have absolutely no idea of what has been said so far. You may feel confused or awkward. This can be very embarrassing in some occasions, especially when you ask a question about something that has already been expressed while you were off somewhere far. It is quite obvious that such a thing is disrespectful to the other person.
When an individual daringly meets life he cannot expect all the time , happy situations, favourable circumstances and a conducive arrangement of chances in his field of activity. Ordinarily , a weak man suddenly feels dejected and is tempted to leave his field of work when it is only half done. Many lose their chances of achieving the highest and desert the field of action almost at the moment when, perhaps, victory is round the corner. In order to ‘stick to his guns’ man needs a secret energy to nurture and nourish his exhausted and fatigued morale, and this sacred energy welling up in his well integrated personality is ‘fortitude’.
THE MAN WHO USED TO URINATE ON MY HEAD WHEN I WAS IN PRISON
Nelson Mandela: “After becoming president, I once asked some members of my close protection to walk with me around the city, to have lunch in one of its restaurants.
We sat in one of the restaurants in the city centre and all asked for food.”
“After a while the waiter brought us our requests, I noticed that there is someone sitting in front of my table waiting for food”
I then said to one of the soldiers: go ask this person to join us with his food and eat with us.
The soldier went to ask the man. The man brought his food and sat next to me while I asked him and started eating.
His hands were constantly shaking until everyone finished their meal and the man left.
The soldier said to me: The man was apparently very ill. His hands were shaking while he ate!”
“No, not at all,” Mandela said.
“This man was the guard of the prison where I was imprisoned. “Often, after the torture I suffered, I would scream and ask for some water.
“The same man would come every time and urinated on my head. “ “So I found him frightened, trembling, expecting me to reciprocate, at least in the same way, either by torturing him or by imprisoning him as I am now the President of the State of South Africa.”
“But that’s not my character or part of my ethic.”
“The mentality of reprisals destroys states, while the mentality of tolerance builds nations.”
A new consciousness and a totally new morality are necessary to bring about a radical change in the present culture and social structure. This is obvious, yet the Left and the Right and the revolutionary seem to disregard it. Any dogma, any formula, any ideology is part of the old consciousness; they are the fabrications of thought whose activity is fragmentation – the Left, the Right, the centre. This activity will inevitably lead to bloodshed of the Right or of the Left or to totalitarianism. This is what is going on around us. One sees the necessity of social, economic, and moral change but the response is from the old consciousness, thought being the principal actor. The mess, the confusion, and the misery that human beings have got into are within the area of the old consciousness, and without changing that profoundly,every human activity – political, economic or religious – will only bring us to the destruction of each other and of the earth. This is so obvious to the sane.
Renowned researcher and author Jim Collins makes his second appearance on The Knowledge Project, this time to share a wealth of life lessons learned from his mentor and collaborator, Bill Lazier. Jim recently released BE 2.0 (Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0), an ambitious upgrade of his first book Beyond Entrepreneurship, co-authored with Lazier and focused on effective leadership style. Shane discusses all new topics with Jim in their follow-up conversation, including what it means to be a mentor and a father, why we should trust by default, why we confuse living a long life with a great life, and the difference between being afraid of risk and being afraid of ambiguity.
Now, you might be wondering, “How do you motivate people with brutal facts? Doesn’t motivation flow chiefly from a compelling vision?” The answer, surprisingly, is, “No.” Not because vision is unimportant, but because expending energy trying to motivate people is largely a waste of time. One of the dominant themes that runs throughout this book is that if you successfully implement its findings, you will not need to spend time and energy “motivating” people. If you have the right people on the bus, they will be self-motivated. The real question then becomes: How do you manage in such a way as not to de-motivate people?And one of the single most de-motivating actions you can take is to hold out false hopes, soon to be swept away by events.
Yes, leadership is about vision. But leadership is equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard and the brutal facts confronted. There’s a huge difference between the opportunity to “have your say” and the opportunity to be heard. The good-to-great leaders understood this distinction, creating a culture wherein people had a tremendous opportunity to be heard and, ultimately, for the truth to be heard.