Listening is an artform.
Really listening to another person for an extended period of time can be rare, like finding a treasure.We all want to be heard. We all want to be listened to. We all have something to say. We all have something we want to share. We all want to talk, talk, talk.
How many times do we find ourselves truly listening to someone, then they say something that triggers a response thought from us. We bide our time until we can say our part, but at that point, we have stopped listening. We find ourselves “treading water” until the conversation stops so we can jump in with our two cents.
We are listening with an answer running. That is not listening.
Some of us are better listeners than others. Maybe we are attention deficit, or hyperactive, or both, no matter what our age is. Sometimes others gently or not so gently, let us know of this bad habit.
But like any habit, good or bad, habits can be changed. We simply need to become aware of what we are doing. Once someone lets us know we are not listening, that can become the moment we remind ourselves to become the observer of ourselves. Watch what we do the next time in conversation, so that we can do a better job of listening.
Two things happen when we earnestly listen. First, the person we are listening to feels heard, acknowledged and appreciated. Second, we get a better understanding of what the other person is trying to share with us.
This all seems like common sense. However, if the conversation gets heated, or we have a completely different opinion other than the one that is being expressed, then all bets are off with our listening skills.
How are we with political, religious, or relationship discussions? We know what our weak spots are.
It is always better to work things out in person whenever possible. On the telephone, others cannot see our expressions. The written word can come across very harsh without hearing the inflection of voice and the look in someone’s eyes.
Life is too short to not communicate with others. Keep trying. Never give up. As we grow and change, so do others. If relationships have fallen by the wayside, we can renew them simply by the art of listening.