Listen

If you know me than you know that I'm an observer. I'm usually pretty quiet if I don't know you well or if I'm in a new environment. And there is generally a study period. This isn't a bad thing although I am aware that sometimes it comes across differently than I would intend. Sometimes my quiet is interpreted as bitchiness or coldness but 95% of the time I'm just figuring things out. I LOVE to watch people. It's entertaining as hell but also I've learned so much more from peoples actions than by their words. If you observe for long enough, people will always show you how they will eventually treat you, if they get the opportunity. I've learned that I'd rather do my research upfront. I understand that this probably isn't the ideal entrance into a new relationship of any sort but I'm an old dog, this just works.

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Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to do some family observing. Lots of it really. I confirmed something that I've been noticing elsewhere for quite some time. And please, let me preface this by saying that I'm guiltier than most! People listen only to respond. When was the last time you really listened? Do you even remember? Listening is one of the greatest gifts we can give to another person. Holding space for someone without judgement or thoughts about what to say when they pause is a beautiful thing. To be a wonderful friend or a great conversationalist doesn't always mean you need to be the one speaking, suggesting, and/or interjecting. Sometimes it's just as simple as being present. 

People do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
— Stephen R. Covey

It should go without saying but obviously not every conversation calls for this technique. Often times people are sharing because they are hoping for some kind of feedback or insight. And sometimes just in casual conversation this type of listening is probably overkill. It's just something to consider. I'm making a sweeping assumption that because my loving and very loud family just listens to respond that most families are probably similar. Studying my fam over the holidays was only confirmation of this though. For months I've been considering this listening theory. I've noticed it with acquaintances, businesses, employees, employers, teachers, and strangers.

If we really listened to everything we heard or everything we were told our brains would probably explode so it's essential that we do some filtering. I'm just making a simple suggestion to integrate listening into more of your interactions and communications. Sometimes just being aware of something is enough to change our patterns.

And maybe you're the anomaly who is the worlds best listener and therefore this totally doesn't apply to you, and in that case congratulations are in order. Carry on! But maybe you're with the rest of us "non-listeners" and maybe then you'd consider joining me in my efforts to be a better communicator by way of being a better listener. The people I care about most deserve to be heard and I would like to think that when it is my time to share they would be fully available to hear whatever it is that I need to say. I'm sure that you feel similarly. Give it a whirl and let me know your thoughts. I'm curious!

Thanks for listening,

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