“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
– Sir Winston Churchill
Nowadays, we live in a society where everyone is so eager to speak. I’m guilty of that. (I mean, I’m writing this piece right now, “speaking” to you.) Even when we are having conversations, we often make a mistake of just “speaking.” It doesn’t have to look like you talking the whole time and not letting the other person speak, but it’s more so not giving them full attention to really hear what they have to say. Aren’t we all guilty of having someone talk in front of us as we browse through the internet or checking the messages that we absolutely must answer right away? Haven’t we all been there where we got so busy thinking of all the clever arguments and comebacks to what the person next to us is saying and stopped listening to what they were actually saying? Haven’t we all had arguments where a lot of things were said, but nothing was really heard?
We stopped talking with people, and now we just talk to them. Take arguing with someone, for instance. When we start defending ourselves for the sake of winning the argument, we’re losing the purpose of communication to begin with: connection. When we’re busy explaining why we did what we did and not willing to hear how our actions have affected the other person, we lose that connection. Are we really that afraid to be proven wrong, that we don’t even open up our hearts to possibilities that we might just be? So what if we are wrong? What is the worst thing that can happen? Is it really more important that you are “right” than connecting with people around you, that you don’t even let the other person have a say, literally or figuratively? In the end, wouldn’t you be more right, had you given someone a chance to speak what is right and you learned from it?
It takes a lot to speak up. But, listening shows much courage as well. It shows that you’re willing to be challenged. It shows you’re okay with being proven wrong, because you want to keep developing and learning. It shows you are comfortable enough to really get to know someone, and give them your full attention. It shows you are brave enough to embrace that people are different. It shows you are secure in yourself enough to be able to lend the spotlight to somebody else. It shows you acknowledge that other people matter too, and that’s okay.
So maybe this week, you actually sit down and listen. When the other person is not speaking, don’t make it a time where you feel the need to fill the silence. Don’t think of all the things you can say. Give the other person a moment to think. If anything, ask a question. And be brave enough to hear what the other person is saying, and really, really listen. It’s okay to be wrong, as long as you’re willing to learn it and change it.