Are you? When someone is talking to you are you really doing it?
I’m not talking about when your mom is telling you to drink more water (meaning less coffee! A.K.A.–Heresy.) lalalalala…yes, I know, it’s ok, I’m guilty of that kind of “listening” too (which is more like accepting information but not processing it,
then continue on your merry way in denial of addiction).
1.) Think of a time when you have been listened to, really Listened to.
2.) Now think of a time when you were being heard but not listened to.
What does it mean that someone is ‘Listening’? Think about exactly what they do and how they express true attentiveness. What are the keys that show you their full attention is tuned to you and fully trying to understand what you’re saying?
I cannot speak for you, but I can share a few verbal pick-ups that scream “yeah, I’m listening… but NOT AT ALL”
“wait! oh my word that same thing totally happened to me this one time! Let me tell you about it… that was just like what happened to you , so I totally know how you feel…. and you need to feel this way because this is what I did… and you’re lucky what I went through didn’t happen to you…”
In other words, listening is NOT letting someone start a story and then taking over with your own *more relevant and important story that will surely solve their problem. Listening is NOT telling the person how they should think, or belittling their thoughts. Just be quiet, and attuned. Try to empathize the best you can, but all the while realizing that (no matter how similar an experience of yours might seem) you cannot completely feel what they are feeling.
You are not them. Respect that.
Again, I’d be a liar if I claimed to always be a fantastic listener and refrained from the above sort of conversation. There are definitely unfortunate times when I know someone just needs to talk it out but I’ve got so much on my own mind that, selfishly, I don’t engage and instead I let my mind steep in my own hot tub of concerns. Sometimes it comes out verbally in the form of a “the same thing happened to me…” story and sometimes you can see it in my face. I’m sorry if you’ve been a victim of the Blank-Smile-Face.
“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” – Lady Dorothy Nevill
Our society is full of talkers,
(you might be laughing right now at the hypocrisy of me spouting off about ‘talkers’ hehehe, yes I am aware. I can talk (A LOT-sorry, really guys, just tell me to shut my trap once in a while and I’ll get the hint!) I can be quiet too…promise. Hang in here with me.
oftentimes a key indicator of insecurity is the more a person talks about his/herself. The more someone talks about themselves, and in conversations relates everything back to THEMSELVES, the more they’re silently asking for constant verbal reassurance and acceptance from others. How difficult and sad to be in that place with yourself. I am serious, insecurity in all it’s forms isn’t something to treat flippantly (we’ve all got it, some more than others).
Personally, I’d guess this hyper-self-talking and lack of good listening skills might have a root in people not feeling that they themselves are really listened too.
Listening=”I care about what you are saying, because I care about what you are feeling, because I care about you.” even if what you are saying seems silly or not what I would do or think, I will refrain from condescedingly suppressing you with my own opinion (unless asked, in which case I’d gently lay it out) BECAUSE you matter more to me.
Let’s try something, let’s learn to discern what someone is saying without their words (many times their face is their own monologue). You probably already do this with a few close friends and/or family, you know when they’re distressed by their eyes alone.
Another thought: the people who most desperately need to be listened to are often the last people to initiate the conversation. Take the opportunity to invest interest in other’s “soul-fare” (like their personal welfare but better, their entirety-their soul.)
“The face is the mirror of the mind and the eyes, without speaking, confess the secrets of the heart.” -Saint Jerome
Do you want to be listened to? Be a good listener. Do not expect to be listened to as much as fully listen to others. In time you’ll realize there is never an un-listened to thought in your head or word from your mouth. The same One who listens also knows every hair on your head and every desire of your heart. We are instinctively not inclined to be True Listeners, too preoccupied with ourselves, but we are instinctively inclined to crave being listened too (to feel of value). Good thing for us is that we can learn to be True Listeners by following the example of that One.