The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said (Pillai & Krishna, pp 57). This quote is a reminder that often, what is not said can be more important than what is. Communication goes beyond words; it is important to truly listen and understand what is not being said to have meaningful conversations. This lesson has been invaluable to me and has changed how I approach conversations. I now prioritize listening before speaking, and I make sure to pay attention to the subtle cues that often go unnoticed. This has allowed me to have more meaningful conversations and build stronger relationships with those around me.
As a young adult, I thought I had the world figured out, and I was sure of what I wanted and what I had to do to achieve it. I was also convinced that my voice was the most important in every conversation, and I was eager to express my opinion and ideas, even when I had nothing of value. I remember one particular instance in which this attitude got me into trouble when I was invited to a dinner party by a family friend, and I felt obligated to show my appreciation by engaging in a lively conversation. As the talk got more and more intense, I felt the urge to jump in and make my presence known. I started to offer my opinion about various topics despite having no relevant knowledge or experience, and without considering the other people’s feelings at the table, I interrupted them and spoke over them. My main priority was to make sure that all heard my voice. I was completely unaware of the effect I was having on the other people present. My behaviors were not only rude and disrespectful, but it also made other people feel disregarded. They were not allowed to express their opinions and ideas because I was too busy asserting my own. This caused others to feel resentment towards me and my behaviors. To make matters worse, I was not only disregarding the opinions of my peers’ opinions but also my superiors’ opinions. I had yet to recognize their authority and the authority of their positions. This lack of respect made me appear unprofessional and immature. The dinner ended in an awkward silence, and I felt embarrassed by my behavior. As I was leaving, our family friend pulled me aside and said, “I’m glad you came, but next time tries to be more aware of the people around you. Listen more and talk less.” At first, I felt frustrated by the comment and felt like I was being judged. However, I soon realized that the advice was meant to be constructive and was not intended to make me feel bad. After some time to reflect, I realized my friend had a point.
I began to realize that my behavior was rude and disrespectful since I was not allowing anyone else at the table to get a word in edgewise. I was also not demonstrating any respect for the other person’s opinion. I was so eager to make my point that I was not taking the time to listen to what the other person had to say.
This experience opened my eyes to the importance of being an active listener. It taught me that I must put aside my agenda and take the time to listen to what others have to say. It also taught me that I must know how my words and actions affect those around me. I had to learn to control myself and think twice before I spoke. I had to learn to be a better listener and fully understand the other person’s point of view.
I have since learned to practice active listening by engaging in conversations to understand the other person. I have also become more aware of my body language and facial expressions to show the other person that I am genuinely interested in what they say. I have learned to ask questions and to be patient when someone is speaking. I have also learned to step back and allow others to express themselves without interruption.
Another lesson I have learned from this experience is to be respectful of opinions, be open-minded, and accept that not everyone will agree with me. I have also learned to be mindful of my tone and words when speaking with others and to be honest and direct while respecting the other person’s opinion. This experience taught me the hard lesson that sometimes it is better to shut up and listen. Hence, it was an invaluable lesson that helped me become a better communicator and person. As Peter F. Drucker said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”
Learning to be an active listener has allowed me to become a better communicator and build stronger relationships with those around me. I have become more aware of my behaviors and mindful of the people around me by learning to be respectful of the opinions of others and to take the time to listen and understand what the other person is saying. I have also learned to think before speaking and to be aware of how my words and actions affect those around me.
This experience has taught me the importance of communication and the power of listening. It has also taught me the value of being aware of the feelings of the people around me. Therefore, I will always be grateful for the lesson I learned that day and the changes it has brought about in my life.
Pillai, Krishna, & Krishna Pillai. “Communication: Hearing What Isn’t Said.” The essence of a Manager (2011): 57-73. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-17581-7_4