Are we really listening to each other?

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One of the catchphrases in my current classroom that has resonated with me this season has been 'stop, look and listen'.

While this has often been used to obtain students' attention in the classroom so they are ready to listen to an instruction, I have realised that there is more to this than just providing information.

For those at the receiving end of this phrase, information is disseminated and knowledge is begotten when we stop, look and listen. If we choose to ignore this, we often miss out on important instructions and information, finding ourselves lost in the process.

Though it can sometimes seems like a waste of time to stop to listen to others, doing so often benefits us. Whether it is something worth listening to or not, we only know for sure if we stopped to listen in the first place. If it isn't anything that is beneficial, we could easily go on our way after that.

However, if we had decided to ignore it in the first place and had continued with what we were doing but the input was actually something valuable and necessary, we would have then missed out on an opportune moment which could not only have saved us time but also enriched our lives.

Never assume that we know everything there is to know and arrogantly think that there is nothing more to add to our lives. Listening to various ideas widens our perspective. Listening to many views does not in any way mean we have to subscribe to whatever we listen to.

Even if it's something we don't agree with, listening to something that goes against what we believe in will still benefit us as it will either further strengthen our belief or sometimes challenge us to change what we once thought was right. Neither causes us harm; either one makes us wiser.

Indeed, having a bigger picture and knowing more enables us to draw more comprehensive conclusions without being narrow minded. Life is a never ending journey and we are constantly learning from others if only we would stop, look and listen.

On the other hand, 'stop, look and listen' is not just an announcement starter. It's not only for the benefit of the listener but also for the speaker.

The principles behind 'stop, look and listen' ascribe honour and respect to the speaker. They imply that the person who is speaking is valued and worth listening to. The speaker matters enough for others to stop whatever important business they are doing to turn their full attention to look at them and to listen to them as every voice matters.

This action is packed full of what a community is. No man is an island. There are other people in our lives and they are meaningful too. There is more to life than ourselves.

The same like we need others, others need us too. We can't be there for everyone; neither can we solve everyone's problems but we can start with one person at a time.

Mother Theresa very wisely said, "We cannot all do great things but we can all do small things with great love."

I know I can start to stop, look and listen more to my family members, my parents, my spouse and my children. I know I can stop, look and listen to at least one student, one colleague, one neighbour, one friend. Who can we stop, look and listen to today?