Listen, Inquire, And Respond: 3 Steps for Better Life Management
This post is about a lot of things. When we say life management, what does this word ‘life’ include? It includes all are systems – at micro level as well as macro-level and even beyond. From our ‘self’ to our relationships to our extended contacts. Our life management is a totally internal concept and all that, that comes from the external environment are the different cues, which we allow in our lives and when we do that, they can have a positive or negative effect on us. This effect is quite controllable in reality but we human beings believe the unreal realistically and ignore the real unrealistically – I will leave this sentence for you to contemplate. Let’s take an example; Suzy was trying to tell Aron to make it a habit to keep his things in place. However, as always Aron felt a little careless in doing so. Although he knew it’s not good to create a mess around but he was habitual to not bother or ponder over it. So Suzy started to nag him strongly for every time he didn’t keep something in place. This little way of internal and external exchanges between them used to get them to argue at times, sometimes worse. Suzy used to keep picking on him, ‘keep this damn thing in place’, ‘why have you left this glass on my side of the bed’, ‘why do you ignore what I say’ etc.
Aron’s replies were casual to strong, ‘I would do that’, ‘not a big deal’, ‘you can move it aside’. Gradually such things became a regular affair for them leading to argumentative scenarios. Result used to be nothing less than abusive, counter-arguments, breakups, banging and throwing things away and even leaving the house every now and then. Now just imagine, in this example, keeping things in place versus not so bothered attitude, Suzy and Aron got to a point where the value of relationship was compromised, leading to feelings of anger, rage, name-calling, ego states. Don’t you think such a mood will spread across all the spheres of these people – at the workplace, while driving, among friends and other family members? Well not necessarily, aggressively but also through avoidance, silence, tears, self-critical statements or what not. In our everyday lives, somewhere or the other, we encounter certain instances where we lose our control and behave in a way which we later realize could have been dealt with in another way, more suitable and appropriate. How many times we tend to play the blame game. Such as ‘it happened because of you’, ‘if this was not the circumstance, I would not have reacted this way’, ‘because you didn’t care to know, even I didn’t bother’, ‘life is bad to me, that’s why I am bad to myself’, ‘people are mean, that’s why I hate the world’. How easily we put these frames ahead of us and escape the reality. The reality is ‘US’, ‘WE’, ‘ME’, and ‘I’. Let’s change these frames for better clarity - ‘It happened because I let it happen or it happened because it was supposed to happen’, ‘life is bad to me, doesn’t mean that I have to be bad to myself’ etc. Think about it, when with one sentence we can change the meaning and its impact over us, then why do we fail to do so while we are in a state of receiving the external cues that we feel are against us, harming us, not for us, putting us down? Simply, because we don’t listen, we don’t inquire, we don’t respond. We react (not the way we should).
STEP 1: LISTEN Listen – when we ask someone to listen to us, what are we expecting from that person? We expect them to give attention to our dialogue, give a thought to what we might be meaning to say. Also, we expect them to show a semantic understanding towards us, our reaction and behavior. Sometimes, our tonality is such that the word ‘listen’ also comes across as rude, loud, aggressive, however, in order to make it stronger, we sometimes shout out ‘listen’ and say whatever we want to in a go. Is it helpful, do you gain what you intend to? Not really because the other party has another story and they also expect similar kind of attention to their dialogue, their meaning and their understanding. Whereas, when both the parties are in an argument, the conclusion is zero understanding, zero attention and the entire meaning is lost leading to further complex situations. This doesn’t only happen between two, three or four people, it even happens with our own selves – sometimes the confusion that we build around our inner dialogues can have major consequences with our confidence, self-esteem, self-respect, identity questioning, anxiety etc. I would love to write a new blog on this context, sometime later. Coming back to ‘listening’. Positively speaking, listening is a great tool to effective management of our relationships with our own selves as well as with others. When we give an opportunity to ourselves, okay, not others but ourselves to listen to someone or something, what we are actually doing is creating a room for growing our minds to effective analysing less complicated reservoirs of knowledge sounds complicated. When we listen, we let the other person complete their version, helping them vent out their feelings and emotions and helping them empty their anger and suppression first. At the same time helping ourselves cool down before we actually build baggage of regret. Once we know the other side, we have achieved the capability of responding; Responding (not reacting). Easier said than done but practising listening is something you can engage yourself in. It’s a skill you can master.
STEP 2: INQUIRE To inquire here doesn’t denote a formal investigation from inside to outside and vice-versa of person’s behavior, words, body language, gestures etc but simply means to know the correct stance for us to be able to respond aptly. The capability of responding is unbelievably a beautiful mastery of harmless existence. So paraphrasing what we listened (just not heard) from the other end and summarizing it to the other person will give him/her the ability to embrace our understanding to their activity, in turn giving them an opportunity to avail this dynamically silent feature called ‘listening’ available to us all. Sadly, we fail to incorporate it into our daily lives. Just because we don’t really give it a thought. There would be times that the person to whom we would summarize the situation might not be in a position to think, listen, absorb anything due to a heightened state of anxiety, overflowing emotions or mixed state of confusion. It’s alright, listening and then inquiring will help us come to a point where we can monitor, control and channelize our energies towards giving in or keeping out of a heated situation. There is no loss either way or all this will be possible because we would allow both the phases (listening & inquiring) to occur as filters to our communication, leading to step 3.
STEP 3: RESPOND I have mentioned responding (not reacting) above because sometimes as humans we look for cues to satisfy our current state of mind, so exchanging responding with reacting can be a common mistake to all of us beings. Clarity to what responding could possibly be might have occurred to you in step 1 and 2. However, a little more reflection might be helpful. First of all, practicing these steps consciously will help us gain wisdom to respond or not respond to a particular situation. That means, we get the power to modulate the internal impact of any situation as such. We also get the authority to pace it down in a way that indirectly we are able to help the other person by letting him/her vent it all out before us. Lastly, it gives us the chance of measuring where we stand in terms of being hurt/pricked/angry/lonely and impulsive. It’s liberating to master this achievement. Try it out. Give yourself a time period ranging from 5 to 500 situations that can test you and your patience. Beat it, as quickly as you grasp these life management tips. Feel free in your space and in space with others from your home to work, to your hobby class through a conscious click of your conscience.