Channel: Muslim Life Hackers
Series: Muslim Life Hackers - Season 1
In this episode, I talk about listening; the benefits, importance and six strategies to get you on the road to better listening skills.
We live in an increasingly noisy world where everyone has something to say, and to get your message across, it is even more important be someone who listens!
Episode 34 Welcome to the Muslim life hackers podcast, the weekly podcast providing you with tips and tricks on how to hack your life and maximize its potential. And now for your hosts Mithra maroof and maheen Malik.
As we said, the crisis see lands Assalamu alaikum Muslim life I kids, this is maheen Malik here, and I'm going to be your host for today's podcast. This is Episode 34. As usual, you can find all the links and resources mentioned in this episode in our show notes at Muslim life hackers.com forward slash 34. Now before we get into our podcast on how to become a great listener, just a quick reflection, my reflection point for this podcast came about through just really reflecting upon my past my actions during the past weekend. And it just really affirmed my thoughts on the idea that every action and every step that we take, while we're doing anything within our lives, whether it be
big or small, it either brings us closer to our desired goals or tasks, or dreams, or it takes us a step away from them. I really got to thinking about this a lot during the weekend, as I mentioned earlier, so it was a typical weekend for me. And I had a ton of things scheduled into my calendar. And particularly during the weekend, I had a lot of research to do for an assessment that was
that was due shortly. And I'm in my final year for my degree. So it was quite an important assessment. And so what happened was the weekend started off and I wake up in the morning, and I was just laying in bed and I'm like, Okay, I'm willing to get up, go for it, take a shallow breakfast and get straight into my research. But what what I found found myself doing was, as I was laying there, I was like, oh, maybe just like 10 minutes asleep. As her I fell asleep. And lo and behold, three hours later, I woke up, it was almost midday, I felt like my whole day was kind of going the whole weekend kind of pass in this profession where I was procrastinating. And I put off doing my
research and, and working and focusing on my task at hand. And I was just like, I was on YouTube watching like, recipe videos and like what colors suit my skin tone the best or would you believe, but whatever. But I was putting up all of these like important tasks that I eventually had to complete, but I didn't complete them. This is what I want you to take away from this reflection is the witness that when you procrastinate, when you put something off, and you choose to do something else other than your task at hand or something that is required to bring you closer to your goal. For example, for me, my task was to complete my research so that I could complete this assessment so
that eventually I could down the road complete my degree. Essentially what happened was, I took a step back from that, not a step closer, if I had completed my research, I would be one step closer to completing my degree, but the opposite had happened. So when you do procrastinate or put something off, you're actually choosing to take a step back from your goal or complete your task at hand. That was my reflection for today. Every action is either a step closer or a step away from where you want to be. Okay, so back to today's episode on being a great listener. You may be wondering why it is like even important to be great listener in the first place. And I'm going to be
talking about this and giving you some reasons about why it's important along with some benefits and then following and then ending it off with some strategies and how to become a better listener. After this podcast is actually inspired by past experience of mine, and the story goes like three years like this, I had the opportunity to speak to
a really kind of influential writer and lecturer. And I really admired him and I was really excited to talk about talk to him about some of his recent research that he had published. And I want to share my thoughts with him and ask him a few questions on the topic at hand. Yes, I just I couldn't wait to like discuss with him and have a conversation with him and really kind of like pick his brain and see what he thought about my own ideas on the topic as well. The opportunity came and I went up to this person after one of his talks, introduced myself after about the first two sentences, I realized that he wasn't listening to me was looking elsewhere. He was shuffling his
papers, kind of like spinning his like phone around in his hand kind of thing. He kept looking over my shoulder. And when I was asking him questions, he wouldn't actually answer the question. He just kind of go off on a tangent and start talking about himself and when I started to share my viewpoints with him, he kind of
Put them all down and disregarded them. And when I finished the conversation, I left it, I walked away feeling a bit down and rejected. I'm like, Man, that guy has the worst listening skills ever. And I guess my opinion of him changed quite dramatically. Now, it could be that he was just like, not in the mood to listen at that time. But the impression that I got just from that brief encounter, like really changed my opinion about him dramatically that this isn't to say that I'm a fantastic Oh, listen on myself, actually, I've got, I'm trying to actually improve myself and be someone who had listened more than I speak. And this is any vfm the other day when I was having a
conversation with one of my sisters, and I didn't even notice it, but we were talking about, or she was telling me about, it was some history topic of modern history, World War Two, I think, military strategies, or something.
Who were Big History fans in my family. She was discussing something with me. And I think about the 10th interruption.
As I was, like, budding into her into her into her sentences. She was like, Oh, maheen is such a no at all. And I'm like, What? No, not. And then I realized that, you know, I wasn't really practicing good listening skills. Like he she was trying to share ideas and thoughts with me. And I just kept butting in correcting her on names and dates, and all this stuff. And frankly, being a bit of a nodal. And ever since then I'm having like, I really need to be a better listener. And when we have a look at our society, and especially in this day and age, it seems like everyone's got something to say everyone's got an opinion about everything. We're constantly talking, tweeting, emailing,
posting, it's just never ending, we have this constant access to devices and platforms, which allow us to speak all the time. There's no kind of like, curfew on social media. And even within our education system. Being a being eccentric, and extroverted and loud and opinionated, is quite celebrated. And this means it's even more important to be someone who listens, because in a world where everyone's talking, being a listener would definitely give you the upper hand. And that's not to say that you shouldn't be speaking at all, speaking is important and expressing, expressing your thoughts, opinions, having conversations with people are necessary and important, and they're part
of being human, but it needs to be measured and calculated. There's a reason why Allah subhanaw taala has given us two ears, and one mouth, meaning we should listen twice as much as we talk. And right now I'm gonna be giving some benefits to listening. First of all, if you find that if you're not someone who listens, and you're, you tend to do all the talking all the time, you might find that people, people regard you as a little bit rude, and maybe even narcissistic, they, they might gain the impression that you're all about yourself, you're quite self centered, being a bit unfair, your popularity is definitely going to go down. And if you're someone who's always interrupting and
always doing the talking, and not listening to others, in turn, people are going to stop listening to you. Okay, so some benefits to being a listener. Firstly, so when you listen, you gain more knowledge being on the receiving end of the conversation means that you gain all the info. And this only happens when you listen, it's going to help you respond better after you've actually listened to what someone said and kind of processed it instead of just putting in comments that aren't thought through and aren't really relevant to the conversation. And hand in hand with that, when you actually listen to what's going on in the conversation and gain knowledge and, and have an
understanding of what's being said to you, you're better, you're better able to establish connection with the person that you're communicating with, or listening to.
So another benefit is you pick up on things that others have missed, you're more intuitive, that this kind of goes with the previous benefit. But being a listener means that you might be able to pick up on stuff that other people who are talking might not realize, like for example, if you know that someone's speaking of sudden turn all the time, like they very upbeat and energetic. When you speak to them later on, they're speaking to you and they sound quite low, you're immediately able to recognize that, you know, they don't usually speak in this kind of way. And you're more in tune to how they responding to you and how they're communicating with you and might you might be like
there's something wrong. Or alternatively, if someone's being more energetic than usual, you're able to grasp they're, they're in a happy mood right now and able to respond and turn appropriately. Another benefit is when you listen, it gives whoever you're listening to a sense of importance. You know, I'm I'm listening to you, because what you have to say is important. What you have to say is worth listening to when you when you bump into people and you don't listen and you're the only one that's talking. It kind of sends the message
Hey, what do you have to say, doesn't really mean anything to me. And I'm the one with all the goods, I'm gonna do all the talking kind of thing. So someone who listens, really empowers others to, you know, put their own opinions out there as well. Being a listener also nurtures an open mindset, listening instead of constantly talking and talking and chatting, and like, rebutting gives you the opportunity to see the world through someone else's eyes, put yourself into their shoes, the world is so diverse upon a lot. And there's billions of people in the world, living someone your ear and listening to their point of view, listening to their stories will only open your mind up more to
the possibilities and the differences. And the similarities within us all. On the other side, being the one who always talks, you kind of closing yourself off to these opportunities, and this new knowledge and insight that's out there. And the final benefit that I can give is being a listener means that people also listen to you, when you listen to someone, you're showing them that, hey, I'm someone who's respectful. I'm someone who's fair, open minded. I'm someone who's willing to listen to you and give you time. So in time, they'll listen to you because you've demonstrated that you've got good character, if you're someone who always listens, that means that people are going to start
thinking, hey, this guy or this girl, there's someone who listens. So by listening, you're also giving yourself a better platform to be able to communicate your ideas, and what you have to say much better as well. So there were just a few of the benefits of being a listener. We can also look at the example about messenger peace and blessings be upon him. And it was known that when someone would speak to him or just him, have a complaint, or ask questions, he would actually turn and face his entire body to face the person and listen attentively to what they had to say before responding, he would also think quite deeply before he spoke, as well. And we've also been taught through his
teachings, the thing that would send the most people to the fire of jahannam of the Hellfire is our tongues. And therefore our speech is something that we need to closely guard and closely monitor. And that in itself should motivate you to become more more of a listener rather than like constantly speaking and throwing statements out there.
And with that being said, I'm going to be giving you a six strategies to help you become a better listener. So strategy number one, be there. Assume the right position, like I gave in the in lecture gave an example of our Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, he would turn his whole entire body to face the person who was speaking to him.
So to should you also assume the right stance, if someone is speaking to you don't give them your back. Don't even give them your shoulder, turn your body make the effort to look at them, and face them orient your body, what is does, when you turn to face someone is that hey, look, I'm actually paying attention to you have got my attention. Also stop whatever it is that you're doing. If, for example, someone had come up to you, and while you were like, I don't know, tidying up your desk or something. Stop tidying, stop shuffling papers, don't play with your phone, put it in your pocket.
Just stop all of that fidgeting and focus on them. Assume a listening stance. Also, part of being there is eye contact. Like if you're like staring at the ceiling, the person who's talking to you isn't going to get the impression that they've got your attention to having eye contact is really important. Looking someone in the eye is a good way of showing that, you know, like I'm paying attention I'm listening, you've got you've got me right here right now.
But with that being said, like constant like staring, staring someone down kind of thing is gonna like give the impression that you're a serial killer. So Also, make sure you're taking breaks in between lengths of eye contact, for example, making eye contact with the person you're speaking to speaking to you, and then shifting your focus down to maybe their mouth, or their hand gestures, and then maybe back up to their eyes. That's a good kind of pattern to implement when you when someone's speaking to you. And that kind of break in like eye contact tells them that hey, I'm not a serial killer.
So, strategy number two,
focus your mind what's going on. Most of the time when someone's speaking to us, is about like this huge whirlwind of like topics going on internal dialogue that's going on within our heads, we may experience a situation where like someone is talking to us, rather than paying attention to them. We're formulating our own kind of response in our mind, but we're not even there in the conversation. It's more like they said something and then you say something, and it's not really even related. It's just that it's just stuff that you're just kind of like throwing at each other. There's no flow to the conversation because you're not
actually listening to what's being said and responding and kind stop that business within your mind. Like when you're preparing an answer, and actually focus, you can prepare an answer and respond after they're finished. Also, another way that people don't focus their minds is that when someone's speaking to them, they have this kind of like, a silent counter arguments going inside their heads. Like for example, sometimes when someone's talking to me, and they say something, and I'm like, inside my head, I'm just like, What? Are you serious? Oh, or another example. I haven't this to john. Oh, john, I like chocolate chip cookies. And then what John's singing inside his head is like,
Oh, my God, chocolate chip cookies, are you serious? I am, it is such a weird, I feel like chocolate chip cookies, like what is going on inside his head and is like doing this counter arguments. He's actually listening to Ahmed. So stop all this internal dialogue and focus, you'll have a chance to make a response and think about what you want to say, after the person has finished speaking, you will get your term. And that's the same for strategy number three, which is wait your term, I'm sure we've all experienced a situation where we're speaking to someone, and they just keep interrupting you like, pleases, let me get my idea out there. It's really rude. And you're actually interrupting
the other person's train of thought that they're trying to convey something to you. And you've just interrupted them, and stop the train of thought. And just to like, put your kind of input in there. It's a bit selfish. It's kind of like people don't think that they'll have a chance to speak. They just jump in there. They've got this kind of impulsive attitude towards conversations where someone's saying something, oh, no, but I think this or actually, No, you're wrong. But practicing patience. This does take effort. And believe me, sometimes when you actually wait, your turn to speak, you're better able to formulate a response, because you've actually listened to what the
President had to say.
Taken a moment to take in a moment for you actually opened your mouth, what you've had what you have to say is more concise, and more comprehensive as well. Strategy number four, ask questions. This shows the person that who was speaking to you that you know, you've understood, you've comprehended, and you've actually taken a moment to think about what they've said and given their speech, some thought, and asking questions is also another great way to learn more, and encourages your mind to think critically about things. I'm assessed on electrical chip cookies, john, being a good listener should say, Oh, really? I didn't know that. What is it about chocolate chip cookies that you like
Or whatever the conversation may be. So that was judging before strategy number five. For Pete, summarize and paraphrase. When someone has spoken to you a good way to cement what you've heard, is to repeat it back and summarize and paraphrase. For example, Ahmed says, john, electrical chip cookies because chocolate is so awesome. And I think that it's the most wholesome food around. So john, being a good listener is going to repeat, summarize, or paraphrase is going to be like, Oh, I hear. So what you're saying is that you think that chocolate is that wholesome food, by extension, you think chocolate chip cookies are awesome. So that's a good way for john to show that he's
actually listened. And he's kind of rephrased information that I haven't given him. So strategy. So that was strategy number five. Strategy number six, be open minded. This one is a bit tricky, because because as human beings, we form judgments very, very quickly. And we have our own kind of ideas about how the world should be. And we have our own kind of mental schemas and notions about what's right or what's wrong, and what's normal, what's abnormal. And when people tend to speak to us, we kind of have our judgment framework up. And we don't give people like any room to express their like different opinions and different thoughts. And like I mentioned earlier, billions of
people in the world, and not everyone thinks the same. In fact, everyone is completely individual. And to be a good listener, you need to have an open mind, you need to acknowledge that people might not think the same way as you people not might not agree with you, people might Express viewpoints that you don't agree with. And what's important in being good listener is that you give their thoughts, other people's opinions, thoughts, ideas, a fighting chance, practice having an open mind. And while you're listening, try to see things through their eyes. Because even though you might not agree with someone, understanding where they're coming from, and what their opinion is all about, is
going to give you a better understanding and better insight into how your mind works and how your opinions have been formed. So they were the six strategies for being a great listener. And just to recap them, they were
Strategy number one, be their strategy number two, focus your mind strategy number three, wait your turn strategy number four, ask questions. Strategy number five, repeat, summarize or paraphrase. And strategy number six, be open minded in your thinking. Alright, so that's all I've got on being a great listener. And before we end off, today's shout out goes to our listeners in Brussels, Belgium, how I'm saying that right? What do you think of Belgium, I think of hot chocolate and like sweets and pastries and things like that. That is really some quick research in Brussels as interested to find that officially. So bilingual state, the languages spoken a French and Dutch and after the
world after World War Two, Belgium and Brussels in particular has become quite the center stage for international audience on
peacekeeping in international politics. So that was pretty awesome. So it sounds guys. Thanks for tuning in. And before we end off, Have you enjoyed today's podcast? If so, please tweet the love by going to Muslim lifehacker.com forward slash love and tweeting a link to the show. This really helps us get the word out there to other people who could possibly benefit from the podcast. And as always, you can find all the links and resources mentioned in today's episode in our show notes at Muslim Laffer cars.com forward slash 34. All right. That's all for today, folks. Until next time, aim high. Take action and be awesome.