The Art of Genuine Listening: Because Left-Footed Crocodiles Deserve Better

In the grand theatre of life, we all vie for a starring role, often forgetting that a one-man show can be dreadfully boring. We all have a penchant for wanting to be heard, to narrate our experiences with the fervency of a preacher on a Sunday morning, insisting that the world must absolutely know how we feel, what we think, and how we interpret events. But let’s face it, this “all about me” performance can sometimes be as appealing as a left-footed crocodile trying to salsa dance — awkward, unbalanced, and frankly, a bit selfish.

Now, I’m not saying that sharing your feelings equates to a dancing crocodile (although the imagery is quite amusing), but there is a fine line between expressing oneself and monopolizing every conversation. As the wise Daniel Dae Kim once said, “There is as much wisdom in listening as there is in speaking–and that goes for all relationships, not just romantic ones.” So, let’s give the stage to others sometimes, shall we?

Imagine a world where we genuinely listen to others, not just to reply but to understand. A world where we swap our shoes, chanklas, or slippers with others to truly walk a mile in their footwear. Stephen R. Covey hit the nail on the head when he noted, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” It’s high time we change this, don’t you think?

And while we’re at it, let’s address the elephant in the room — or should I say, the buzzing phone in your hand. “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time,” M. Scott Peck reminded us. So, for the love of all things holy, put down that phone when someone is pouring their heart out to you. No, you cannot multitask listening to a heartfelt confession and playing games, chatting with your crush or mother  on WhatsApp. It’s not just impolite; it’s downright dismissive.

Now, I hear you asking, “But what about my feelings?” Well, dear reader, it’s a two-way street. As Diogenes wisely pointed out, “We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” It’s a gentle reminder to balance our desire to be heard with a generous dose of listening. After all, a good conversation is like a tennis match, a back-and-forth rally that leaves both parties feeling satisfied.

Lastly, let’s debunk a pervasive myth that has been doing rounds for far too long — the notion that your biological makeup grants you a monopoly over feelings, experiences, or behaviours. It’s high time we call this what it is: utter nonsense. Your gender does not define your capacity for empathy, kindness, or understanding, nor does it excuse bad behaviour. It’s a fact, not an opinion, and it stands tall, unyielding, and unapologetic in the face of disagreement.

So, let’s all strive to be better listeners, to foster understanding and empathy in our relationships. Because, at the end of the day, genuine listening is not just about hearing words; it’s about understanding the feelings and intentions behind them. And who knows, you might just find that listening not only makes you a better friend, partner, or family member but a better person altogether. Let’s give it a try, shall we? After all, even left-footed crocodiles deserve to be heard.


“In the grand theatre of life, may we strive not to be the star of a one-man show, but the attentive audience to the symphony of voices around us, understanding that even a left-footed crocodile has a story worth hearing.” – Hanif Kruger

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