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Just Listen

I try to be a good listener. It’s important for each of us to be heard and acknowledged by those around us, no matter the relationship – relative, friend, acquaintance, someone you just met. In my opinion, listening is the foundation of communication: it’s the road map to what’s going on in the mind of the speaker. How do I know what a person is thinking or feeling if I’m not listening to what’s being said? And then the natural progression is, if I don’t know what the person thinks or how they feel, how do I know how to respond?

There is a psychology to listening. It requires a cognitive stillness on the part of listener. I think this is the major contributing factor to my ability to listen. I process things slowly – I have to force myself to “think on my feet.” I can do it; but it doesn’t come easily. What is effortless for me is being in the moment with the speaker. Listening to the ripples of meaning beneath the surface of the words actually being spoken. It’s often called active listening.

In my interactions with other I’ve noticed that many people don’t let me finish speaking. I know I tend to take the scenic route when I’m speaking – I feel I need to give the person to whom I speaking with any background information they might need to understand my narrative.  I know that everyone is busy and multitasking is the king that rules our days. Why just listen when you can talk at the same time? Needless to say, as a writer and storyteller I get a bit frustrated when I talk to a person who consistently interrupts.

By interrupting, a person unconsciously connotes that the other person’s communication isn’t as important as theirs. If I’m speaking and you’re talking at the same time, you’re not listening to my story. To some extent, yes, of course I appreciate the response, but sometimes I don’t want advice or feedback or opinion. Sometimes I just want the other person to listen; sometimes I need to know I’m being heard.

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