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OMG. You’re SUCH a good listener. To yourself.

OMG. You're SUCH a good listener. To yourself.

Are you a good listener? (YES DUH. What did you ask again?) Most of us would automatically  answer yes. Probably before the questions was finished–am I right or am I right?

Here’s what I think truly goes on in most “listening” minds. You are-

–anticipating what the other person will say next;

–conjuring the sheer brilliance, no doubt, you’ll soon blessedly bestow upon the person currently moving their lips,

–sometimes even while the other person is talking, because you’re soooooo right in what you’re saying;

–hear a voice forming some words, so you throw out some sagacious, emphatic uh-huh’s and oh really‘s, even varying your tone a bit and making occasional eye contact, you kind, epic thing, you!

–imaging yourself in the shoes of the person speaking;

We all can relate to each one of these listening tactics, but which one applies to you most of the time? Honestly? Sit back and really analyze yourself. Here I have, with re-iteration of the listening habit and a pro and con to go with each.

1. Anticipating what the other person will say next:

PRO: You might nail it and feel pretty psychic.

CON: You might come off as a know-it-all or one-upper.

If you admit to anticipating what the speaker will say  next, I hope you’re that excited about their words, kind dude. But this may say that you are extremely detail-oriented (not me. I’m not. I can remember what everyone wore and said and ate at my third birthday, sure, but who can’t?), complex, or uncomfortable. To put it sweetly.

Some people are so guilty of this that they appear extremely scripted or even selfish. Selfish, yeah, because this type of listening often sparks memories of their own personal stories or experiences, since these types of listeners often apply the situation or story that the other person is speaking of to themselves (which can, when used sparingly, demonstrate that you’re listening and that’s very nice and all. But in excess? Another story.). This then leads them to respond with answers or stories that start out with the statement–

“Well I . . .”

If you do this too often, people will get very annoyed with you. I promise. Oh, do I. Aren’t one-uppers and know-it-alls so so enduring? Said nobody ever. Bottom line? Well, of this paragraph? The most accomplished people do not brag about their accomplishments: when you do not boast or babble about yourself and listen when another is talking, people want to know more about you, you (wo)man of mystery, you.

LISTEN.

2. Conjuring the sheer brilliance, no doubt, you’ll soon bestow upon the person currently moving their lips, sometimes even while the other person is talking, because you’re soooooo right in what you’re saying:

In a nutshell, anticipating how you’re going to respond.

PRO: Maybe you’ll have turned a verbose response into something tight and elegant and well-thought-out.

CON: Maybe you’ll have turned a verbose response into something tight and elegant and well-thought-out at risk of appearing as though you were focused less on the speaker and more on your self-directed goal of turning out a tight and elegant and well-thought-out response.

It’s not always all about ourselves.

LISTEN.

3. Hear a voice forming some words, so you throw out some sagacious, emphatic uh-huh’s and oh really‘s, even varying your tone a bit and making occasional eye contact, you kind, epic thing, you!

Go sit on a needle. And read a book on compassion. You’ll need enough of it to sustain yourself because, with your a-hole-ishness? People might not have any left for you.

Convey care and compassion (and don’t sit on a needle because you): LISTEN.

4. Imaging yourself in the shoes of the person speaking: 

PRO: You’re awesome. Kind. Probably a go-to guy or gal. Dependable. People might not even be able to pinpoint what’s so epic about you, but it could very easily be how you make them feel by intently listening, and, in turn, conveying their importance.

CON: Not. Easy. We’re self-serving creatures at heart. Overriding this disposition takes work and practice. But it pays. And in some jobs? Quite literally. Sometimes it’s even life or death (nursing memories abounding . . .)!

If you truly believe you imagine the picture the speaker is painting and do this without other reactions interfering, you deserve a prize. Here’s a mental hug. Not only do you live in the moment, but you truly care about other people—enough so that you can easily put yourself in their shoes. You absorb the other party’s words.  This portrays a type of depth that can only be created and understood by detailed listening, although you may find yourself periodically adding your own CONSIDERATELY WELL-PLACED details as to convey that you can relate.

Quick tip:

I feel guilty when I’m applying any of the tactics except the last to a conversation and then the other person spouts out information that I didn’t anticipate, like something uber personal and/or surprising (You WHAT with your breastmilk?!). When I ask what? I feel embarrassed at my inattentiveness/rudeness. So I came up with a remedy to look less like an a-hole . . .

Morph your red-faced what? into a smiley WHAT?! as to appear in utter disbelief at what was so brilliantly said. You’re so hinged on the speaker’s words that you’d love for them to repeat what they said–”I ran a marathon” . . . “I ate a rodent” . . . “Have a great morning”–it wasn’t one bit that you weren’t listening, no.

. . . and more like a weirdo.

Listening tips fo’ real:

  • Shut up.
  • Repeat what the speaker said to you in a condensed summary. This shows that you were listening carefully–that you care–and the speaker will fill in any missing pieces/elaborate important information for you if necessary.
  • Have a great tidbit to interject? Interject only if it’s to drive the speaker’s point home, the window was CLEARLY there, and you’re an infrequent interjector. Otherwise you’re bordering know-it-all and one-upper land.
  • Understand the psychology of body language. For example: arms crossed = I’m  pissed. Leaning forward = I’m interested. Staring at cleavage = I’m into you but for all the wrong reasons . . . or perhaps you’re a baby, then I guess it’s all good.
  • Eye. Contact.
  • Ask questions accordingly.
  • Be a little mysterious; don’t be an open book.
  • Look upon others with compassion. We’re all looking to feel significant, needed, loved . . . a smile is worth a crapton of words, right? Listening is worth a crapton of smiles. Do the math.

listen

Happy shutting up! Er, happy listening!

mom

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