By Dr Henry Shepherd
Listening the words of wisdom is a cardinal virtue, which has lost it charm with time; public speaking skill of people is superseding it with time and has been adopted as a vocation. Unlike hearing listening is not utilizing the time when not speaking. A good listener not only gathers information but evolves in wisdom and understanding. On the other hand the common hearing just adds to knowledge of the hearers. Still though not intently these two words –‘hear’ and ‘listen’, are often used interchangeably. Hearing only requires a set of functional ears, whereas the listening process demands rapt attention of listeners and congenial atmosphere at the locale.
A study shows that good listeners grasp only 60% of a talk through listening, 20% by hearing and remaining 20% time is invested in mental exercise in correlating his own precepts with new information, simultaneously. It is so because human brain has a huge capacity to grasp up to 600 words, whereas speakers utter 125-150 wpm. Therefore because of this gap mind finds idle time to wander, which more in case of hearers. This discontinuity leads to partial listening and dis intrust, making the talk jejune.
Generic listener may be classified as: Active listener, Passive listener and Partial listener. Maximum attention is paid in active listening whereas attention and appreciation is minimal in partial listening, for lesser interested part is skipped due to wandering of mind. The active listeners employ six traits which are expansions of six letters forming the word ‘LISTEN’.”L” stands for ‘Look up’, in which concerned faculties are focused on the visual aids and speaker; “I” stands for ‘Inquisitiveness’ toward the theme by making the speaker elucidate the obscure portion of the talk . “S” is for preparing a summary of the talk for future reference and better retention, “T” stands for ‘Thirst’ to assimilate innovative views of speaker. “E” is for being empathic with speaker ,by looking at them, occasionally shaking head , and uttering short words to show agreement , such as: OH!, Wow, Hmm and Yes etc. The last letter “N” stands for ‘Nullity’ towards disagreement with views of the speaker until he has not finished the talk, because extra oddity lessens concertation and interest of listeners. Partial listening allows mind to wander freely as the listener loses interest from the beginning. It has been found that audio – visual method is more effective way of communication.
Apart from these types of listening there is an extraordinary type where speechless messages are received not through visible organ-ears. The mystical or spiritual messages are elucidated to the concerned persons. This thought may sound paradoxical yet humans and animals are well acquainted with this mod of communication. When we see someone’s long, tearful, frowning, grim or grin face, lustful eyes, hanging jaw or gnashing teeth the messages, are lucid. Similarly certain symptoms speak aloud in their own language such as: splitting headache, toothache, stomach-ache, grey hair, shivering, colour of skin turning pale or blue, white or blue nails, stinking mouth, warm body or coated tongue etc. Eerie silence, celestial signs, red sky, position of stars, appearance of migratory birds, or company of vultures, wind direction, dancing of peacock, chirping of birds, cuckoo’s loud calls or ominous weeping of dog are warning messages people understand with experience. A drop of blood speaks under the microscope to experts. We all understand the soundless message of love and hatred. The language of stomach is universal which humans, birds, animals etc. understand very well. The flowering, fruiting and canopy, colour shape and size of plants and herbs speak for themselves.
Hearing and seeing are figurative here: hearing means been led by God, and seeing means perceiving the truth. Nevertheless man often turns deaf ear toward divine jargons. The Psalmist says, “The Heavens declare the glory of God; The sky proclaims the works of his hand, day after day they pour forth speech; Night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. The voice goes into all earth their words to the end of the world.”
The hot weather tells to switch on fans and air-conditioners but cold weather says the opposite. The wonderful creation of God’s hand educate man in the attributes of the Creator in: wisdom, power, holiness, love and humility etc. How wonderfully God creates man in mother’s womb. Though the breathing is not their yet they foetus listens attentively and grows without sunlight. Man has no excuse to remain ignorant of God. We experience his love and mercies yet do not comprehend God’s divine messages in fair weather, if hearing is impaired dew to sin.
Sin acts as wax which plugs the ears making the person deaf to hear Him. To commune with God a clean heart is primary requirement. Jesus talked to his disciples on the road to Emmaus but both of them could not recognize his voice. The Lord opened their eyes and ears and then they recognized him. We all need to see and hear Him but it is not in our power until our perverted hearts and minds are free from corruption. The angles and demons are at war in space but neither we see nor hear, for that is spiritual activity. Millions of microbes enter our body through air, water and food to kill us, but we don’t even feel or see them. This battle is going inside our bodies day and night as long as a man is alive. Like this he have live thousands of times that we count one, and do not thank him for His grace. There for listening God’s voice and obeying Him gives life eternal blessing, joy, peace and redemption.
Jesus gave several reasons that impair human adherence. He said, “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason we do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” The spoken word of God is available with man in written form but we disobey them and have become unreceptive. Prophet Ezekiel says,” Son of man you are living among rebellion people.” They have eyes but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are rebellious people.” Listening skill is not related to psychic or IQ; Hearing ability is a gift of God necessary to have faith in God and obey him. Therefore the Bible repeatedly says, “He who has ears let him hear….. Today if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts as you did in rebellion.”
A natural man hears what pleases heart or is beneficial, convenient, easy and non-demanding. Humans love to speak and insist others to pay attention. Saint James says,” Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Do not just listen but obey”. The opposite of talking is listening, not waiting for own turn. A man who only hears is like the one who looks at his face in the mirror, but forgets when goes away- What he looks like. Let us join King David who prayed,” Search me O God and know my heart test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” For only God can restore hearing and seeing power by his grace. God will talk only when you lend your ear to him.
Dr Henry Shepherd is former Pro Vice Chancellor Sam Higginbottom Institute of Ag Engg & Tech