Listening is something that we do everyday, but i think it is not an easy practice to master. More often than not our judgement and opinions get in the way of true listening. However, I believe that by being conscious of the way I perceive and listen to other people, I can have more chances to create connection.
I was hanging out at a bar and I saw this guy whom I had met several times before. I had always held a thought that the guy was a bit creepy so I did not want to say hi to him. Unfortunately our eyes met for a moment and he nodded in acknowledgement. Not wanting to be rude, I nodded back and sure enough, he started to walk over. Before I knew it, we were making awkward small talk about how were we doing and how weird the weather had been lately. I was relieved when other mutual acquaintances came over and joined the conversation. It gave me a chance to stop making small talk and just listen in the background. But then I realized that the more I listened and observed how the guy was interacting with other people, the more I saw that he was just a normal guy trying to fit in. I became more curious and eventually I found out that we had more things in common than I knew at first. We were both born in Vietnam but lived abroad for a few years, we don’t work for any company but trying to do our own thing, and we both shared an interest for stand-up comedy. In the end he invited me for a chance to perform at a show that he and his friends are putting on soon.
When I got home that night, I spent sometimes to reflect on what had happened. My opinion of the guy was completely changed and I had an opportunity to make new friends and join a new community. And all I had to do was to listen. I listened not to reply but to understand. I listened because I was curious and in a curious mind there is no place for judgment. Without judgment then connection can be built. And it all starts with learning how to listen.