There has been something really smacking me in the face lately and that is the art of “listening”. I never really noticed it before, but this past week I could really tell if someone was not listening to me and I caught myself doing it too. A dead give away is when I start talking about something and without finishing my thought, the other person jumps in and turns my story in to her own story — so what I was trying to say — becomes lost. It really aggravates me, but I found myself being guilty of that too. I didn’t actually interrupt the speaker, but I did find my mind wandering — preparing myself mentally for my response. It really is the same thing.
One of my favorite movies is “The Big Lebowski” — there is a scene where the sheriff is yelling at “The Dude” and when asked if he heard what the sheriff said — he responds — “I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening.” That cracks-me-up every time. And we have all done that. Remember when you were a teenager and your Mom was yelling at you? No? Because you were not listening.
I wonder how many times communication becomes screwed up because the people talking aren’t listening to each other. I think it happens a lot during an argument where verbal insults are launched, instead of both parties trying to come to some sort of understanding. I think world leaders and for sure politicians are good at the “not listening” game. They are definitely very good at the “pointing-fingers” game.
Therapists are supposed to be good listeners — they are paid to do that, but I wonder if any of them “tune-out” their patients — especially when she has heard that patient’s complaint a 100 times.
It’s hard to be a good listener — there are so many distractions. How many of us are guilty of snooping the web while talking on the phone? I did it too many times to count and I know my son does it — I can tell by his vague answers when I ask him a question.
Maybe becoming a good listener is like lifting weights — you have to work at it to build strong muscles. I think meditating and practicing yoga helped me “see” when I was not being heard. You know. Being present. If I was not present, at least that particular time, maybe I wouldn’t have noticed the other person was not listening to me.
What do you think? Or weren’t you listening?