Among the multitude of characteristics Gen-Z is known for, the most prominent of them is its insistence on having an opinion – more specifically, a strong opinion. I believe this phenomena is a two sided coin; on one hand, this breeds a global environment of education and much-needed debate. It inculcates the need for an education in arenas that people would perhaps otherwise be unfamiliar with. Additionally, it may also serve to broaden horizons and introduce to us a wider range of subjects. This culture also implicitly and almost imperceptibly discourages listening to a certain degree, which is something that has got to stop, as listening helps you broaden your mindset and way more.
With the advent of technology and the mere existence of the Internet, the virtue of listening has changed twofold: it encourages and stimulates conversation, owing to the ease of communication, but can also constrict the capacity of this conversation, averting heart to heart conversations.
Talking is relatively easy; expressing beliefs, voicing opinions and rants ad nauseam. However, listening – not hearing – is, by far, one of the most underrated skills and is greatly difficult. Although initially unintuitive, listening requires a profound amount of mental effort. It demands persistent patience and complete focus on the speaker’s words. We often do not listen with the intent on understanding, we listen with the intent of replying. A good listener conveys to the speaker that they are important and worthy of getting their voice heard at any time, it requires us to step down from our pedestals, put ourselves on mute and step outside the confines of our own minds. In doing so, we can enlighten and understand ourselves, others and the world more deeply. The reason being a good listener not only helps you connect with your inner self, but it also helps others realise their mistakes and how they can fix them. Moreover listening to issues help solve them quickly and makes you connect with your partner easily so both of them can understand each other at its best.
Being a good listener comes with its own set of obstacles: it requires one to acknowledge that they do not know everything and do not have all the answers and causes one to be vulnerable and inadvertently brings out one’s weaknesses and ignorance. Good listening can lead to sound decisions or solve issues from as trivial as an argument between siblings, to as significant as a world war (exemplified by Gandhi’s letter in plea to Hitler). The best listeners have the greatest capacity for personal growth. To reiterate, active listening allows us the freedom of exploring other perspectives and ideas that, if anything, would amount to a richer and more well-rounded perception. When we listen attentively, relationships start to develop and in order to keep them going, listening and talking play a very important role.