“Intrusive, thoughtless people!” said K. as he turned back into the room. The supervisor may have agreed with him, at least K. thought that was what he saw from the corner of his eye. But it was just as possible that he had not even been listening as he had his hand pressed firmly down on the table and seemed to be comparing the length of his fingers.”
Franz Kafka, “The Trial”
To listen is to hear something with thoughtful attention. This is exactly what I had been loving to do for many years. “Thoughtless people!” I exclaimed like K. from ‘The Trial’ in many occasions, amazed by the blatant lack of listening I stumbled upon.
But then, my small universe gradually became noisier with more people, stories, interruptions getting in and a growing number of roles to play. Listening, once natural and fundamental, became challenging. It was overshadowed by a cacophony of noises and options. The option to multitask while hearing someone/something, to let my thoughts take me somewhere else in a conversation, to value my busyness more than the chance to discuss and reflect on what I heard.
Amid all these options, when to opt for listening and how to dedicate my full attention to what is being said? A tough question in a noisy and fast-paced world. One that requires an ongoing reflection on what matters and a pinch of discipline… with no guarantee for success. What is certain for me, though, is my rediscovery of listening in all its aspects as a means of connecting, appreciating, learning, reflecting, developing, and much more.
When was the last time you listened carefully?