Are You Listening?
“Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours”
Imagine you are telling someone a story, an opinion, educating on an issue, or just answering a question they asked you, and while you are talking, they are talking. I don’t mean to someone else or on their phone but talking out loud to themselves right in front of you while they are supposedly listening to you.
Imagine they are saying things like:
- “Get to the point.”
- “What is the point?”
- “I don’t agree with that at all.”
- “Well, yea, but my story is better than yours.”
- “Why are you wearing that?”
- “What were you thinking with that haircut?”
- “I wonder what the kids are up to”
- “Oh gee, look at the time.”
- “I am hungry. I wonder where I can eat.”
- “Are you ever going to take a breath so I can get my points and stories in?”
I don’t mean this is a back-and-forth combative conversation; I mean they are talking over you the entire time you are talking. It is like they are not present to the fact that you have the floor. It is like you are not even there.
I know it is hard to visualize but take a moment and do so. Imagine your audience of one is jabbering away out loud right in your face while you have the floor. Got it?
- How does it feel?
- What would you do if it happened?
- What would happen to your relationship with that person?
- Would it build trust?
- Would you want to do business?
- Would you want to spend more time with them?
Notice how toxic such a bizarre act makes the other person in your mind. Notice how you just want to get away and stay away.
What we call listening is nothing more than silent self-talk. We stand in front of people. We make eye contact. We nod our heads. We murmur dutiful concurrences while all the while we are chattering away about anything and everything. We don’t listen. We just hear.
Flip the roles and ask yourself what you want from others when it is your turn to share. What do you want them to do? How do you want them to be? How do you want to feel? How will you know you were heard?
Sure, sometimes listening is just about memorizing what the other person said, like in class or when someone is giving you directions.
When we are sharing a piece of our own heart and soul, our stories, our heartaches, our triumphs, our passions, our opinions, and our knowledge, what we want is for the other person to shut up and listen.
We want them to get us. Feel us. Know us. Accept us. Respect us. Empathize with us. Celebrate with us. Be curious about us. Love us.
Any idea how often that happens? Almost never. In fact, those of us that really do listen to others make “friends for life.” Why? Because that kind of “friendship” IS life. It is precious. It is rare.
You might call it Being Present, so present that the other person feels it. They feel your gift to them. They feel your commitment to them. It is so dammed attractive that you may find them following you everywhere.
If you want friendship, listen. If you want respect, listen. If you want the business, listen. If you want love, listen! Be the Present others are dying for.
Want to test your listening skills? Click here to take my listening quiz.