Before I went for Kiran Gulrajani’s Tao of Facilitation, I thought an effective communicator is one who can speak his/her idea with clarity and that was enough.. to communicate thoughts, feelings and sometimes even emotions. At the time I didn’t even know that communicating had so many layers to it – one of the main ones being listening.
But I thought I did listen. In fact, I thought I was pretty good at it. It is only in the workshop I realized that I didn’t even know what listening really meant. Listening, as it was explained, meant being a space.. for the other to express, to be him/herself, to really speak without fear of being judged. It meant quietening down my inner chatter to really hear what the other was saying. It meant not jumping to conclusions about who the speaker was, whether he/she was right or wrong, or even what I thought about the subject about which he/she spoke. Wow! I mean who would’ve thought?!
As this concept was being spoken of, it intrigued me more and more.. then Kiran said, would anyone volunteer to do a role play – with one speaker and one listener. I jumped up to be the listener.. what better opportunity to really learn.. and I was paired with Mujeeb, who I didn’t know very well. Mujeeb is a founder of a non-profit called Bhumi, about which I had vaguely heard – and he chose to talk about the kind of challenges he faces at Bhumi.. and I listened… or atleast tried to. At he end of 2-3 minutes.. there came a time to rate my listening. I rated myself at 5/10 and so did Mujeeb. I realised that my inner chatter and need to understand Mujeeb was so great that I hadn’t really understood where he was coming from or what intention he’d said what he said.. I really understood how much he needed to be heard.. and how much of a difference I could make in people’s lives when I really listened.
It is now 6 months since this happened.. Mujeeb is now a friend.. and I’m one of his many fans 🙂 I am seriously involved with Bhumi and their work and plan to always be 🙂
We rode in the car together when we were coming back from the Bhumi office, and something beautiful happened. Mujeeb began sharing from the heart.. about his journey to where he is today, his ups and downs, trials and tribulations. How he became a person who believes in inclusiveness, equality, non-violence and love. How, inspite of many challenges, he still continues to see the goodness in people and is filled with hope when he talks about concepts like nation-building and freedom. His dreams about building India and watching it become the nation that it deserves to be is as alive today as when he first started his work with Bhumi. This time I really listened… because when he spoke, my heart opened.. and I was all teary-eyed. As he took me with him on his journey I could feel what he felt and heard the emotions in his voice.. I heard his passion and his deep belief that we are capable as a nation to be what we have always dreamed of becoming.. what our leaders have always envisioned. I heard his love for all of humanity and his need to reach out to those who couldn’t see a brighter future for themselves. Most of all, I heard the ordinary person in him who – through extraordinary acts is becoming an extraordinary leader.
His stories left me deeply touched and grateful. I walked back into my apartment feeling grateful that I get to interact with people of extraordinary integrity and authenticity everyday. I am grateful that I have the love and support of so many when I decide to do anything. I ate my dinner in silence, grateful for the food that was lovingly kept aside for me – every morsel nourishing me.
Thank you, Universe, you must really love me!