I’ve heard the word ram used over and over in my life, usually during football season, but on other occasions as well. What came to mind when I envisioned a ram was a fuzzy animal with big curly horns, bashing his head into another one for protection or in a territorial battle. I thought they were a special breed that lived on the sides of mountains, and that there were female rams and male rams. And I was wrong.
Rams are just male sheep, just as ewes are female sheep and lambs are baby sheep. A Big Horn Sheep is a ram, just like any other male sheep, but with horns that can weigh up to 30 lbs. So yes, a sheep, a ewe, a ram, and a lamb are all basically the same animal. Who knew? Not me apparently.
What I also didn’t know is that they are like humans in many ways.
Rams are creatures of habit and they play to their strengths. Their thick fur and large horns help them navigate difficult landscapes. Therefore, if given the option of taking a shortcut through water, or squeezing through tight places, they will tuck their heads down, and climb uphill through rugged terrain with the wind in their faces.
Rams are social creatures that bond together. Sheep flock together not only as part of a hierarchal community but also as a method of protection. The flock allows them to keep space to flee between themselves and their predators. Despite their iffy reputation, rams only display aggression when competing with other males during mating season, and when the flock is threatened by predators. Sheep have incredible peripheral vision, allowing them to see almost completely behind them without turning their heads. The issue is their depth perception is not nearly as good, making it difficult for them to determine the distance between the flock and the predator. Rams have incredible which hearing allows them to detect even the slightest sounds, enabling them to avoid predators and live almost twice as long in the wild as they do in captivity.
Imagine what humans would be capable of doing if we listened with the idea of others in mind. If we listened for the betterment of our flock.
Most people treat conversations like competition. We listen well enough to get basic information that we can flip around into interrupting, insisting, or creating speeches to show the importance of our point of view or demonstrate our superior intellect. But if you stop to think about it, don’t we have more to gain if we close our mouths and open our ears?
The person who is doing the talking is sharing information that is ours for the taking. By listening with intent, we absorb the knowledge and incorporate it into what we do, contributing to our overall success and likely, the success of our social groups.
Additionally, by really listening you will make the talker feel heard. If you really are giving the talker your undivided attention, you will impart to the talker the gifts of time and importance. This in turn may tighten the relationship bond and enlarge both your personal and/or professional networks.
Besides, if you spend more time listening than speaking when you do have something to say, others will listen much more closely to you.
By listening with intention, you have the ability to increase someone’s self-esteem, improve relationships, and increase your own knowledge and your ability to be heard. Two small actions, closing your mouth and opening your ears can make a world of difference, and maybe a difference in the world.
Try following the advice of our curly-horned friends, and the next time someone is talking, don’t be so eager to respond, instead, take the time to listen. You may just make our flock better.