Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Art of Listening

I must warn you, the following is a bit of a rant, my soapbox, if you will.

Have you ever had a friend who expects your full attention when they have something to say but does not reciprocate? I used to say this was one of my biggest pet peeves but I've recently come to the conclusion that it's an epidemic and happens way more often then not. Sadly, I expect it now from people and will be shocked if ever I come across someone who doesn't act this way.

I truly believe that listening has become an art. People are always in a hurry these days so slowing down their own thoughts long enough to listen to what someone else has to say just doesn't happen.

There's a look that comes over one's face...eyes glaze over, they break eye contact then bang you can almost see the moment they go from hearing what you have to say to hearing whatever is happening in their head. You know that moment, when you could say absolutely anything and they'd just say "Uh huh" thinking they're contributing to the conversation. Then, if you're lucky, they continue on in their oblivion and the conversation ends.

However, if you happen to know the other kind of convo offender you know that that look on their face will immediately give way to an interruption. You might as well just stop talking when you see that look cuz you know that they're about to spout out some nonsense that has nothing to do with the conversation. Usually something completely inconsequential but they feel they have to blurt it out anyway. For example: You're telling them about your day and how you got a big promotion at work when in the middle of your sentence you see the look and they blurt out how their coffee isn't hot enough and they're gonna go back and have the barrista redo it. FAIL

If you've got two people who are like that in your lives, I'm so sorry and I feel your pain. When they get together forget about it. You might as well just sit back and shut up.

Now really folks, how hard is it to listen to one another? I pay attention to my friends not because what they have to say in and of itself is of huge import but what they're saying is important because they're the ones saying it. If you call yourself someone's friend, let alone a best friend, don't be constantly thinking of what you're going to say next or what the score of the big game might be or whatever. Instead, open your mind to what they're saying, listen to them ask them questions to show you're listening and don't interrupt them. Your friendships will deepen, your friends will thank you and you might just learn a thing or two about the person on the other end of the conversation.