I never thought about the actual meaning of listening until one day I read this medical article about “listening”. Every single day we hear a lot of sounds. Cars, radio, music, buzzing noise coming from an AC unit, wind, construction machine, especially if you spend most of your time in Washington, DC 🙂 … people we live with, people we work with, people in general. We hear all these things but are we listening? I hear people talking all the time but I confess that I do not listen to them at all those times. I am one of those people who is very selective when it comes to taking things into my mind. I select what is important and what I need to listen to.
Have you ever been in a situation where you are in a conversation, or so you think, and you are trying to get a word or two in? I have…plenty of times. The person across from you is talking and he or she does not realize that a conversation requires one person to talk and the other one to listen and then they take turns listening and talking. I come from a big family and we all have things to say. Thought, ideas, opinions galore! Well, usually there are more than two people talking. Some of us are busy trying to express what we think so we do not wait for the other person to stop talking and we start talking when they are still talking. Lately, I have been observing this a lot. Especially whe I am in a group. I conciously wait, tll my brain to listen and then speak. There are times i may not get a chance to speak depending on who is in the group or I should say “what type of person” I am listening to. From my experience, people who do not listen well are the ones who talk the most. There is a different type of chemistry that they have the urge to speak all the time. Most often, the talkers are also the loudest in the group. I remember one day when I was with my husband’s family, I realized how loud they were. I come from similar type of family. Many of my family members speak loudly. When I asked my husband why they were so loud his answer was simple: “My dad used to turn the tv volume so loud that we got used to speaking at a certain decibel!”. Hmmm… After thinking for a brief moment, I realized that the same was true for my family. My dad used to (bless his heart, he still does) turn the tv volume so high that we used to compete with the sound of the TV. Not to mention we were so excited to share our own opinions (you guessed that right, we are pretty much very opiniated people 🙂 ) that we talked and talked not realizing we were not really “listening”.
As I get older, I find myself seeking calmness. I pay attention to listening more. I pay attention to looking into the person’s eyes and listen. The moment I realize I am drifting into my own thoughts and opinions, eager to cut off the person to share what I think, I stop my thoughts and say “Berna, you will have your turn, now listen”. It works. Conciously making this decision really works. In fact, we teach children how to listen, take turns, raise hand if you have something to say. As adults, I dont expect a person to raise hand but i do expect her or him to read the silent signal “I am done, now it is your turn to speak”. It really is an important skill we need to help children and at times help adults develop. After all we are social beings and we all have something to share. Most of the times…
Do you have difficulty listening? Do you experience hardship talking or sharing your message because someone is not listening to you? What do you do in those instances?