Speak no Evil, See no Evil, Hear no Evil
Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple
Listen more than talk is #11 on my 101 Things to do in 1001 Days list, and part of the journey to living mindfully.
But it was so tough to do!
Some people are naturally detailed-oriented and must leave no stone unturned in their quest to provide you with ALL of the information they have collated on a subject. Others are just naturally long-winded and ramble on.
Then there are the ones who talk like a runaway train…..leaving no gap for you to respond. And when you do finally manage to squeeze in a few words, when they pause for oxygen, they immediately interrupt and increase speed.
The slow talkers are just the opposite. They are in no hurry……they are on the slow train to Shanghai, and a paragraph takes just as long to get there. The meditators must cogitate on every word before it is spoken, leaving you sitting on the edge of your chair, wondering if the sentence will ever be completed.
And of course, the natural urge is to interrupt.
Conversely when you are the one talking, do you ever get the feeling that sometimes the other person is not really listening? Perhaps they are looking all around instead of looking at you, the speaker; or their eyes roll up to one side and you just know they are already thinking of a reply?
Or their fingers are impatiently tapping “hurry up!” The knee-shake is a variant of this.
Then there are the interrupters. You can never complete a sentence with these fellows. Before you‘ve got to the point, they’re already replying, and, if you are also an interrupter, inevitably you end up having parallel conversations!
Sad to say, I was guilty of most of the conversational crimes above.
So #11 Listen more than talk was tough…..it was tough not interrupting until the other person has finished speaking . And it was tough just listening instead of thinking of a reply when someone is talking. There have been a few lapses. But gradually, I’m getting the hang of being a better listener.
It helps me to remember that Zen teaches us to focus on the moment.
No thoughts of the past and no thoughts of the future.
So in listening, we focus 100% on what the other person is saying.