I really want to listen
I really want to learn
I really want to hear your words
But then have you take your turn
It is rare in today’s society to find people with really good listening skills. By listening skills I mean. Listening on a deeper level to what that person is really saying.
I was at a Birthday party on the weekend and someone asks me what I am doing now. So I was telling her how I’m changing my focus and my dream is to write a book. At this point her husband rudely interrupts and says, everyone’s writing books now. I tried that myself and it didn’t work. As I reflect back on that moment I realize that it had everything to do with him and not me, but at the time it really hurt me and was a direct shot to my confidence. Someone that cared to listen would have heard the uncertainty in my voice and asked questions about why I wanted to write this book. If he was really listening to what I was saying, he would have heard a deeper message in my words and not related it back to himself, when it had nothing at all to do with him.
People do this all the time, they relate what others are saying back to themselves and the positive or negative impact it has on them personally. Instead of putting themselves in the place of the person talking and trying to understand how it relates to their life and the impact it has on them.
Listening is an art form, one that I hope to master one day. I feel like listening is getting more and more lost in our technology driven world, of tweets and snap chats. It’s easier for people to not have to listen. They can hide behind texts and emails, and if a misunderstanding comes from it, so be it. We are a throwaway society, more people where they came from, right. Well I feel it’s wrong, because you may think that not listening and not understanding others pain on another level has no effect on your life, but in order to grow content to your character it really does.
Can you think of a time that you had an interaction that started off positive and turn negative?
Walk yourself through that conversation again and think about what could have changed if you or the other person, could have been listening at a deeper level. For instance, maybe they were short and snappy with you because they didn’t like a question that you asked. If we can go back and look at their snappy ness as fear, perhaps the question you asked evoked some emotion in them that made them uncomfortable, so instead of showing you their fear they snapped at you. If in that moment you could have not taken offence and realized it had nothing to do with you and everything to do with some emotion they might be feeling. You could go back and deal with the situation at a different level of listening.
You could say to yourself, wow they were really sensitive about that, I’m sure they are not trying to offend me, they are just trying to protect their own feelings. Maybe you could say, I feel like I may have touched on something that makes you uncomfortable, I’m sorry if I’ve stepped out of line. Is there something else bothering you about this. I’m happy to listen, maybe my perspective can help you look at things from a different angle.
I find more and more that when people have interactions that don’t go well, they tend to take defence, make it about them and walk away mad, carrying that burden of disruption with them as opposed to listening, communicating and resolving. Many times we jump to the conclusion of what the other person meant, without actually clarifying with them.