I am puzzled by the many times in a day that I overhear people conversating and realize that one or both people in the conversation are not listening. They are so busy anticipating what the other person is going to say and what they want to say next that they completely miss the direction and equation of the conversation, which they would sware they fully understand and partipcated in.
This is hard for me to listen to, yet there is little I can do. It is extremely frustrating when it happens to me personally. I find myself attempting to clarify something specific but the other person is so stuck in their own world and they misinterpret what I’m saying because they’ve already assumed that they know what I am about to say and so, when the words come out of my mouth they are mentally in a totally different context, leaving our conversation quite dry and wandering.
In these situations I typically try to find the easiest route out of the conversation. In some cases it’s as simple as discontinuing what I was saying based on the obvious fact that they aren’t actually listening to me. If the topic is something important that they absolutely must understand, I will say, “You’re misunderstanding me..” or “What I mean is…” This is helpful to some degree but can still be a bit ackward because though they may finally catch on to what I was attempting to communicate, there may still be some lingering continuation of their “other world-ness” still hanging on for dear life in the conversation that actually had nothing do with the original idea. It happens. Kindness is the best thing.
Has this happened to you? I admit, I’m not always the best listener.
So, here are tips I hope to follow for good listening:
1- Be patient. Don’t rush the conversation. Being impatient in conversation is rude UNLESS there is a more important demand on your time. If there is, be gently honest.
2- Be present. Do less thinking ahead. Feel what is being said.
3- Don’t interject with different thoughts. Stay on topic. There’s a theme. Follow it. Contribute.
4- Ask questions for clarity. There’s no shame in being uncertain. In fact, honest uncertainty is wisdom.
5- Don’t assume anything except that you may not know exactly what they are saying, which in the long run will cost more time and cause more stress.
6- Remember, this is all common courtesy that you would appreciate others giving to you. Don’t be the egotistical “know-it-all” who expects everyone to listen to you, yet you listen to no one.