Every once in awhile I will come across a quote and it really syncs with how I feel. Like I couldn't have said it better myself! That's how I felt when I read this quote from Chuck Palahniuk: "People don't really listen, they just wait for their turn to talk." I've also seen a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that says basically the same thing. It's so hard to figure out if a quote is authentic!
No matter who said it, I couldn't agree more. Actively listening is something I am personally working on. When you've got a brain like mine, it's going a mile a minute already so listening attentively is a challenge.
Being the friend I'd like to have really weighs on me. I constantly think about what I would value, and try to give that to other people. Can you imagine what the world would be like, if everyone did that?
I had this one experience recently that has been inspirational. In that I was inspired to do the exact opposite of what happened. A friend and I were having a conversation, and about 2 minutes in I realized that no matter what I said, as soon as I paused to take a breath she was going to take back over. Now, because I'm the type of person who always moves out of your way on the sidewalk, I let her do it. But, I felt completely uninterested in continuing the conversation after that. After all, I wasn't really part of it anyway. I'm not saying I had anything particularly precious and valuable to contribute to that conversation, but it doesn't feel good to feel like what you have to say isn't important.
Or when you get the "That's crazy." reply. It's the tell-tale sign they weren't listening to anything you just said.
Here are a few things that I am personally trying, in an attempt to be that great listening friend we all value:
one// Put Down The Phone
Because, basically it's rude. If you pull out your phone during a conversation the other person will feel less important. It will appear that you are bored with whatever they are saying.
I know personally, it's incredibly difficult for my mind to multitask on both listening and reading something else. If you have to do it, always say something like "I'm so sorry, I have to reply to this. But, I want to hear what happens next!"
two// Ask Questions
Asking a genuine question is the number one way to show someone you are interested in what they have to say. It's such a great way to get to know someone too! Be careful with how many questions you ask, because you don't want it to seem like you are interrogating them or being nosy.
three// Eye Contact
Another friend of mine is an expert at this. She focuses in on your face and completely blocks out anything else happening in the room. It's not creepy or anything, but suddenly you feel like the most fascinating person alive! I want others to get that same feeling when talking to me.
four// Restrain Your Reply
This is the most challenging for me. Something you said may remind me of a story, or something similar that happened to me. Or when you are talking about a problem, I might think of a solution that I want to help you with. This is where the waiting for your turn to talk comes in. Instead of thinking about what I want to interject, I am really working on listening to everything you've said first. It's one of those be-in-the-moment things, which is so difficult!
Leave me a comment: Do you struggle with being a good listener? Tell me what makes you feel important during a conversation, and what makes you feel like the person isn't listening!
Oh! And tell me your favorite quote.