Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Art Of Listening


It really is an art, you know.
I grew up with a special kind of love for a good debate. Irrespective of topic, it's the one time when my skills of persuasion really shine through. If I've learned anything about debating in all the years that I've had the opportunity to be involved in one, it's that the best and most effective of debaters are those who listen more than they speak.

This is a fact. Allowing our opponents to ramble on also allows them to ramble into a wall, and a good debater will seize that opportunity to close his argument.

I watched two people on Twitter engage each other earlier today on a political issue, and it was the purest lesson on human weakness. I've always respected them both for their strong opinions, and their passion in expressing those opinions irrespective of opposing views. However, today the debate got so intense that they allowed their ego's to overshadow what could have been an amazing learning experience.
Suddenly you realize that the strong facade portrayed on Twitter masks a very weak and insecure character behind those tweets in reality.
I suppose this is true of most anybody on Twitter, myself included. I just wish people wouldn't allow themselves to lose control of their emotions on a social networking platform as easily as some obviously do.
Remember Nonhle Thema ?

These are some of the things I have learned and cherished over time:
* Never allow anger to be the driver of your tongue.
* Raise your argument, not your voice.
* Always maintain your composure.
* Even when opinions differ, mutual respect must never be negotiable.
* There are times when your silence makes a stronger argument than your words ever could.

* God gave you two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you speak.

I guess these words are apt not only in the debating arena, but also in everyday life.
As guys we like to think that we are good listeners, but are we really?

Sometimes I find myself at the supermarket picking up milk, bread and toilet roll, because that's what I think I heard the missus say I should remember to buy.
Then I get home and realize she's on holiday in Durban and never really asked me to bring anything back at all.