I had no idea that listening would teach me so much until my voice got handcuffed. How many of us are forced to listen when freedom of speech is easily taken for granted and can’t be taken off someone unless there is an unfortunate turn of events? The answer to this is that very few of us have pearls of wisdom from this experience.
Get ready, sit here sipping your drink or wrap yourself up in a blanket and relax if it’s cold outside or simply be relaxed when reading this and make sure when you read this your mind isn’t occupied. The content of this article is going to give you a reaction only I’m not sure what you might feel or think as a result.
What do I mean when I say, “I had no idea that listening would teach me so much until my voice got handcuffed?” When I decided to move to Spain people were concerned that I was going to a country where English wasn’t the native language; my language. I was going to a country where English was still being taught and business was done in Spanish ninety percent of the time. People who were concerned for me didn’t like the idea, but I didn’t care because they weren’t paying my bills and they had no idea why I’d be so crazy to go to a country where I will be learning how to speak again. To be honest, there was a moment where I felt they were right, but things changed and I realised that not many people had the aspirations and power to go after their goals no matter what, like the way I did and still do.
Firstly, you got to want it so bad that you will do what it takes. So here I was in Valencia. I chose a place where there was no chance of meeting English speaking people. Usually the British would be occupying the South of Spain and Valencia wasn’t a very popular destination to live for most of the British expats. I also had no idea what Spanish I learnt until arriving in Spain. Since I was studying on my own, I had a mixture of Argentinian Spanish and Latino Spanish. I had to start all over again.
Since I was limited at expressing myself verbally these were the following things that I had mastered so that I could understand and be understood:
- Observing body language and the use of my own body language
- Observing facial expressions and the use of my own facial expressions
- Following cultural cues and practising cultural cues
Do you know what is challenged the most about a person who is learning another language but can’t fluently speak another language and are only around people who speak that language and not your language?
This one is the most irritating and frustrating reasons of all… You can’t defend yourself no matter how much you want to and try to. You will only be the one upset because you will either be laughed at for not knowing the words you want to express when you’re angry or upset or you will take it in and deal with the rest when you’re on your own.
This is why I say my voice was handcuffed and it was that very reason that pushed me to become fluent in Spanish. I wanted to set the record straight that not all Indian people come from India, that not all Indian girls are naïve. These were the most uneducated assumptions that almost every Spaniard (not South American) made.
Being forced to listen sharpened my level of spirituality, willpower, patience, gratitude, appreciation, wisdom, resourcefulness, opened my eyes that at times I often thought that this is the closest feeling I will ever get to someone who can’t speak, opened my mind about things that really matter to me, perfection, analysis, trained me how to deal with anger and taught me how to handle people who thought I was uneducated only because I couldn’t speak their language fluently at first.
Listening had got me in tune with my own feelings, that it doesn’t need to be vocalised as long as I know it and am aware of it it’s fine. It’s taught me self-belief by listening to my inner voice and acting from that hence, why I became even more unstoppable after the first one and a half years of me
Listening taught me to cut out the bullshit and focus.
As much as I wanted to say a lot about my life and myself in a social circle, I paid one price for another. It was worth paying it temporarily and because I couldn’t say a lot, I observed people, relationships, friendships that my values grew to an even greater level than before. There are not only financial rewards in life but spiritual ones as well.
We live in a world where we write emails quickly, text messages, WhatsApp messages, chats and there’s a lot of talking going on. If you want to be listened to especially when negotiating and trying to get someone to see your perspective listening is key.
When you listen without your opinion, your need to express something which your ego is wanting to bring out, the other person will ask you for your genuine opinion. Listening connects people and creates trust. The focus shouldn’t always be about us. We live in a world where so many people want something from us but if we come from wanting to serve and listen then only can we serve honestly and genuinely.
Just like anything in life. You can only love someone if you love yourself first. You can only listen to someone else if you listen truly to yourself first.
T. Dench Patel