The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.

~ Stephen R. Covey

It’s only recently that I happened to stumble upon this quote. This is one of those rare quotes that do not shove a Thesaurus down your throat or confuse you with morbid profundity, but hit hard with their succinct words and are to the point.

This quote specifically, is very apt in today’s day and age. With all the negativity surrounding us, countries being in perennial feud with each other, people disagreeing over religious matters, minorities asking for more reservation, ethnic groups clashing, this quote brings out the crux of each of those problems.

All people care for is their own opinion. Even when one is listening to someone else, “How will I reply to this?” seems to always be on the back of the mind. People conveniently look for key words and phrases which they can use against the speaker while replying to them.

I’m serious, sometimes I look at my comments section and feel the very same. While replying to some comment of mine, a lot of people go completely off topic and start saying whatever they wanted to initially. They do not care for my, or anyone else’s opinion, they care only about their own.

This leads to discussions becoming an echo chamber, where the opinion which is expressed the loudest deafens any differing opinions. It seems as if we can not have a meaningful discussion anymore.

This brings me to another point though, why are we so stuck up in our own opinions? Why have we spun a web of sweet comforting words around us? Is it that we’re afraid of the harsh truth? Or is it that if our opinion is proved wrong, we lose credibility? We’re better than this people.

Sure, a lot of times I’m wrong, but in order to realize that and make an active effort to better myself, I need to listen to understand, not listen to reply. The political party in power should not just focus on refuting the concerns of the opposition but to act on them and better the prospects of the country, that’s the very reason an opposition is in place. Make use of your power for God’s sake.

From an individual point of view, think of it like this. When you do not know anything at all about a topic, you do some research. You google about the topic, talk to your friends, form an opinion. That opinion should really be subject to change. You can’t just go on defending a topic you yourself just learnt about a couple of hours ago. Initial impressions are important but they should not be that important.

So I guess the moral of the story here is, listen to understand, not to reply. The more I think about it, the more I feel that Stephen R Covey was a genius.

Do you ever listen to understand? Tell me about it in the comments section below. Let’s have a healthy “discussion”.

Much love,