Active listening is important

Talking over each other tears down gatherings and takes away collective benefits. People are social animals. They seek out each other and bond with one another to get connection and camaraderie. They connect in one way or another, aiming to entertain or inspire each other. No human being can exist alone, aloof from other humans.

Depending on their cultures, people gather in certain ways. Some have segregated gatherings (men and women do not mix and mingle), while others allow open mixing, where women and men sit side by side, free from restrictions. As people’s cultures differ, so do their preferential places of gathering. Some congregate in cultural places, some gather in public places, while others meet in their homes. But all have one thing in common: coming together to make an assembly, regardless of its size.

Those who meet in public places, such as cafés and teashops, huddle together, keeping each other company, sipping hot coffee or tea. They enjoy such gatherings. It is where they breathe, talk, and relieve their mental pressure. They are social animals, after all. So they need socialization.

However, talking over each other pollutes many congregations. Nothing is gained when people talk over each other. “Talking over” someone simply means “continuing to talk even while the other person is talking.” In other words, one interrupts and talks while someone else is speaking. Everyone wants to say something, demanding to be listened to, which does not happen. No listening, no taking turns, not gaining anything. It is talk all over the table.

Nothing is gained when people talk over each other. Speaking is a form of communication. So is listening. The two complement each other. The former imparts information; the latter receives and processes it. Active listening is a big part and parcel of effective communication. What is active listening? It is when one attentively listens to what is being said, following both the body language and tone of the speaker. Moreover, active listening is concentrating on the other person’s speech and refraining from preparing something in advance to say when that person stops speaking. According to one explanation, “Active listening requires mastering many skills, including reading body language and tone of voice, maintaining your attention, and being aware of and controlling your emotional response.”

Some individuals are long on talking but short on listening. They push for their stories but do not have the patience to listen. Gatherings dominated by one or a few persons do not flourish; instead, they shrink or collapse altogether. Who has the appetite to listen to such conversational narcissists? Nobody. Conversational narcissists are those who like to speak endlessly. They have a knack for endless talk, which is why they are called conversational narcissists. They are inconsiderate and insensitive to other members’ thoughts.

What is the takeaway from sittings dominated by conversational narcissists? Nothing. In such one-sided sessions, not many collective goals are achieved. How to reduce talking over each other and facilitate a healthy conversation? It is tough to rectify talking over each other in casual conversations. Employing active listening and taking turns boils down to people’s personalities and consideration, but it does not hurt to alert gathering members to converse mutually to create an atmosphere amiable for all.