I hear you
Today I’m talking about the art of listening. There are many wonderful people in the world who support each other. What they do primarily to support each other’s lives, is to listen to each other. They listen very well because it’s the way to communicate with each other. There are many ways to listen, some better than others, but I’ll start first with some of the examples of poor listening that bother me the most, before concluding with a description of the best way to listen.
I know people who talk incessantly whether others are talking or not, and they drone on and on about the special interests that intrigue them. It’s a shame because these people are such dear souls, and it would be so fun to talk with them instead of being talked at. It’s truly sad for the spouses of such people because such a spouse must feel invisible, unheard, as if they aren’t even there. Talking with such people, one notices they don’t care if you look bored, in fact, they don’t notice. You could not even respond or you could just say “yeah” a few times and they wouldn’t even notice you stopped listening to their boring self-interested drivel.
Some listeners are the selective listeners who only pay attention to the things you say if they feel like it. That’s a hard one because it’s even more insulting since you know at least they are capable of listening sometimes. Then there are also the critical listeners who listen but also fact check everything you say, so you can see their mouths starting to move before you finish talking, because they have a criticism of what you just said.
Then there are the narcissistic listeners who, the second you mention something similar to anything they ever did, instead of hearing your experience, they launch into their own similar experience before you even get to finish telling about yours. It is about them, no one else, not for more than a second or two. Give up talking to these people; just sit and praise them.
Then there are the interruption listeners who think they know what you’re about to say. They finish your sentences for you then take off on their own talking. Then, there are the deaf listeners. They listen with their eyes. And then the autistic listeners. They hear everything, even if you’re in the other room. A whisper will be heard. We hear the enormous sounds of the universe in our heads. No one interrupts us because unless we are typing to talk, they don’t listen at all, or walk away, or just start talking as if we weren’t still typing.
I always wanted to talk, but when I watch people, I’m not so sure. At least I can write these blogs and people can read them. They might do better reading than listening, anyway, which brings me to a more modern-day kind of listener, the kind that hears you but won’t look up from their phone to really hear you. That’s just rude.
I would like to end with a description of my favorite kind of listener, the active listener. It’s one of those things, if you don’t need it for your beloved friend or family, you do need it for a job in real life. What an active listener does is shut the hell up and watch and listen, not thinking what to say next, just thinking of what the talker said, then waiting for a pause. Then the active listener could even repeat part of what the talker said in the context of the conversation to let the talker know that he or she has been heard.
The very best listening is the listening done with the heart. I’m very lucky in that regard because so many people listen to me now with this blog. It makes up for all the other non-listeners. So, I’m a privileged woman who realizes how lucky it is to be heard.