Humans are naturally social beings, and the desires to be loved and cared for are vital needs, as they are essential to the overall development of every individual. Maslow characterizes this innate attribute of ours very efficiently in his hierarchy of needs. He ranks relationships as a mandatory need, which has to be fulfilled as soon as basic needs such as food and shelter have been catered to. Understanding that relationships are a gem, one must recognize the value of the ability to listen in the varying types of relationships we share with one another. Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People noted that, “ most people do not listen with the intent to understand rather they listen with the intent to reply.” This in itself has caused the break down of many relationships as individuals can only appreciate their similarities and accommodate their differences if they listen with the intent to understand one another. Hence, arguably, listening is a symbol of love.
Have you ever felt misunderstood by someone you love, a parent, sibling, partner or even a very good friend? It is not very pleasant is it? Depending on the intensity of the misunderstanding, it possibly detracts from a sense of feeling whole and joyful, and in certain cases fragments a beautiful relationship. To keep your loved ones truly happy, you need to really listen to them. A perfect example of the effect of not listening is an exciting game called Chinese whispering! If you’re not familiar with it you should play it with a group of friends, basically a couple of people come together in a circle and whisper a sentence quickly in each persons ear within the circle and the last person who is told the sentence has to say what she has heard. Many times the initial message passed on by the first person is lost by the time the last person says what she understood the sentence to mean, this is usually as a result of the fact that some of the players did not hear exactly what they were told or they did not listen properly, although the previous player had accurately delivered the message. This depicts that when we do not actively listen to one another it can result in confusion and misunderstanding, particularly in our relationships.
However, listening in this article is not confined solely to vocal communication but is used metaphorically to symbolize paying adequate attention to non-verbal communication, as it is frequently reiterated, non-verbal cues make up 93% of many modes of communication. Hence, showing love equally entails being intuitive to the body languages projected by our loved ones. At a wedding I attended, The MC made a hilarious but important comment. He said that if the groom has a misunderstanding with his wife in the near future and they had come to some sort of resolution resulting in her telling him that things are fine, he should not take her word for it but should rather look into her eyes and make sure that things are actually fine. I found this advice to be quite sound because sometimes people feign strength when they could do with a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on or someone they can talk to and who would listen to them. It is your responsibility as a loved one to pick up on this cue and meet that need which they require although they may not have expressly stated that need. Of course this requires patience, trust and honesty and although it is not a singular indicator of love it is most definitely a symbol of it.
By listening to our loved ones we inadvertently say to them, “Hey listen…I love you”. Have you been listening to your loved ones? You can start today!
Photo Credit: Miroslav Ferkuniak | Dreamstime.com