Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shhhh... Don't Say A Word!

It seems that today most people spend their time running, doing, hurrying. It’s a fast-paced world. Conversations are filled with descriptions of errands to be run, tasks to be completed and places to go.

Several months ago, I read a quote related to listening, and it struck a chord. Although I don’t recall the exact words, the essence was that to increase what we learn, we must increase the time we spend listening.

As I paid attention to my own actions, and observed the actions of others, I found that there is very little time spent listening. We listen while we are doing other things. We are not really focused on listening. I am very guilty of typing at the computer, and telling my daughters, “Keep talking. I’m listening.” Type, type, type... “I can listen while I’m cooking dinner. Oh, now, I spilled something. Give me that dishcloth. Keep talking. No, not that dishcloth. I’m listening.” That is what passes for listening in many homes. And we do hear much of what is said, but we also, miss a lot.

When we are in a conversation and someone says something to which we can relate, we often wish the other person would hurry so that we could tell them our experience. I know that I am guilty of this. What I have to say usually relates to what the other person just mentioned, but often I notice, too late, that my comment or experience shifted the direction of the conversation, and the other person may have had more that they wanted to say. Now, it’s difficult, if not impossible for them to return to the point where they stopped.

I once heard someone say that there is no such thing as a conversation these days, only long monologues told by different people who happen to be facing each other. Is that the way it should be? I don’t think so. I am resolving to become a better listener. I, actually, love to listen to what other people tell me, I just become overeager to share my own stories. If I can stifle that need to talk, and instead, just listen, I think I will learn some very interesting things.

“Listen or thy tongue will keep thee deaf.” ~Native American Indian Proverb

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk.” ~Doug Larson

Photo Credit: "you're not listening" by kalandrakas.

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