Thursday, April 14, 2016

L is for Listening

L is for Listening

Do you think you're a good listener? I used to think I was because I was always ready to lend a sympathetic ear to someone who needed it. But am I actually listening or am I thinking about what I'm going to say? Well, upon examination, I realized I'm thinking my own thoughts as much as I am listening to the other person. I started to consider this after a conversation I was in recently.
Image result for free clipart images
Is she really listening? Or thinking about
what she's going to say?

Ward and I were at a doctor's appointment to discuss various issues. We had talked beforehand about some questions we wanted to ask. The appointment was going along well (not a doctor who rushed, yea!) and Ward asked about one of the things he had been wondering. The doctor answered the question, but didn't give the information that Ward was looking for. I waited a minute for Ward to do a follow-up and when he didn't, I jumped in.

Later, I asked Ward why he didn't follow-up and he said, "I was trying to hear everything the doctor had to say without thinking about what I was going to say next. I was going to clarify things. I just hadn't yet." Hmmm. That was exactly what I had been doing--thinking about what I was going to say next instead of giving my full attention to the doctor. That's why I was ready to jump in before Ward. In my thinking ahead, I wonder how much I missed.

After that, I started to pay attention to the way I listened. I found that most of the time, when a person was only partially through what they were saying, I was already thinking about what I was going to say next.  There always seemed to be a thought triggered by one of their comments. Sometimes, I was so interested in saying what I was thinking, I had to bring the conversation back to a former topic so I could say it.

Now I knew that my mind wandered sometimes and I wasn't always a good listener. There were certain topics of discussion (say, economics or often told family stores, for example) where my mind wandered every time they come up. However, I didn't realize how much I was thinking about what I wanted to say, instead of real listening much of the time.

I think, to some degree, everyone does some partial listening. Perhaps there's a gender component to it. In general, studies have shown that women are more verbal and want more social connections than men. So thinking ahead may be a way for females to keep the conversation and connection going. There's probably more than one PhD dissertation out there on the subject, but I'll have to research that another time. Now it's time to think about the letter M.

How good of a listener are you?