Friday, August 10, 2007

Communication: Listening and Thinking

Some time during last Ramadan, Sr Ruba told us that Abu Bakr (ra) used to keep a pebble in his mouth @ all times. Whenever he had to speak, he would shift it from one side of his mouth to another, giving him enough time to organise his thoughts, and more importantly, never speaking without thinking or acting impulsively.
The other sisters in my group did it more symbolically- by keeping the stone in front of them or in their hand. They were worried about choking on it.
I did this activity for a week. At work, no one noticed. I would only take it out when sleeping or eating. Or perhaps when I was hammering away at the keyboard putting pieces of Java code together.
That week, I was perhaps quieter than usual. When it comes to mischief (hehe) or speaking against inefficiency and injustice, I tend to be impulsive, and communicate my reactions instead of my thoughts and ideas. This is quite important: A person needs to understand what they are communicating. If you're angry or unstable, the pebble shifting will help you focus. And when you have to give advice, it will help you speak more effectively.

It's a great activity, I'd recommend it to anyone. A pebble with the radius of a nickel or bigger is good.

Nobody listens. They only think they do.
A good listener applies the ”EARS” Formula to exploit this advantage. They:

Evaluate – search for evidence that the speaker might use to support their statements
Anticipate – tries to predict what the next point will be
Review – mentally summarises the main points the speaker has covered
Speculate – read between the lines to ask: “What is he/she really saying?”

This way, you're more involved in the process of listening, which is extremely important in today's self-centered world. In a communication process, a lot of things happen all together: there are your reactions which involve body language, evaluating what you liked and didn't like, and understanding what was just said.
It's rather wonderful when you have great communication skills, you'd do away with more than half your problems!

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