Deep-listening and service to others

In perceiving the world around you, you should always listen to people. No-brainer, right? But listening to people is actually quite difficult and I’m going to differentiate between listening and deep-listening (with such a cool name, it’s obviously the thing you want to do).

When you really listen to people, you understand what they’re saying, you understand their emotional states, you can be compassionate about their problems and so on. True listening is needed in order to deep-listen.

Even when people listen to others, which is outrageously rare, at least in my life, where it seems that almost everybody wants to talk and get heard, but nobody is prepared to be silent and hear others – even when it happens, there is still one step more where you get a better picture of the persons mind.

What I label deep-listening might as well be labeled „discourse analysis“ (see also). There are many things that are unsaid when a person talks, but are still „said“, in a way. And I’m not even talking about non-verbals, even though they are a very important part of deep-listening. When you deep-listen to other people, you actively analyze what they are saying, real-time. You ask yourself questions about what they say (analysis of consistency, coherence and meaning), you ask yourself about them (their emotional state, and what they want), you monitor changes on their body and discourse after your responses. Shortly, you listen smarter. It is very difficult for me to instruct anybody about this because I’m far from mastering it, but I’ve seen a glimpse of it and I share what I have realized.

With that in mind…

I have come to realize that service to others is an integral part of becoming overhuman. It never really dawned upon me that I don’t do much for others while I focus on myself and my development. What good is it all if it’s only self-serving?

When learning new things, I always ask myself this question: „How can I exploit this? How can I use it in my favor?“ This exploitation is, naturally, always benevolent. But it is necessary to ask this question too: „How can this be useful to other people?“ Nothing obliges you to devote yourself to absolute altruism and stop caring about yourself so that other people are satisfied. There is a difference between sacrificing your own well-being for others and serving others. Everyone always starts from herself – you change yourself, and then change the world, right? But there comes a time when you CAN actually change the world, and many people forget about this.

So go wash the dishes. Repair your family member’s bike. Fix the TV for them. Clean the toilet. Do people favors, unasked. Don’t look for anything in return. The first step was starting to listen to other people, and the next step is doing things for them. So go do them. Don’t think about doing them, don’t plan doing them – do them.

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3 thoughts on “Deep-listening and service to others

  1. I think the connection between both of those things is empathy. As we grow in understanding of ourselves, we naturally grow in understanding of others. When we understand the things that make us angry, we can understand the anger others. The same for happiness, sadness, joy, and fright.

    The deep-listening you’re talking about seems very close to “Truthsay” from Dune. If I understood how it worked, the early scenes of the book where Paul thought that the Reverend Mother was lying wasn’t based upon an thought-mediated analysis but an internal understanding of her, himself, and the situation. Granted, Paul Atreides is a superhuman but he still had a frightening degree of self awareness and honesty – a *central* element of Bene Gesserit training.

    Am I understanding you properly?

    • It is indeed quite similar to Truthsay but without having lie detection as a primary point. As for the question of is it a result of an intuitive feeling or a chain of reasoning, I’d be inclined to say the first, but I see the need to aproach this from another angle – my intuition has led me to wrong conclusions several times. So I think that a hollistic aproach, one that combines intuition based on empathy (internal understanding) with hard reasoning free of biases and logical fallacies + self-monitoring of the probability of a certain conclusion.

  2. Pingback: The one thing most people don’t know about human communication | Becoming Overhuman

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