Have you had a conversation with someone lately who actually listened to you? or to whom you truly listened? If you have, I applaud you. Seriously. Stand up right now, and let me praise you, because I think you are one of – if not the only person – who still does that. Who still listens.
If I’m talking to someone I’m not even offended anymore if they’re multitasking. Life is hard, and moves very fast. I get it. Sometimes you have to talk to me while you’re grocery shopping, or doing the dishes. Or, less understanding, while you’re checking your Instagram, writing a text message, or browsing Facebook. Even though this is something that I’ve grown to expect, I refuse to say that it is OK. I refuse to say that it is kind, or acceptable, or tolerated. It’s not. It is not OK to ignore someone who has put their entire life on hold, and is standing in front of you pouring out their heart – or at least the contents of their mind.
I went to the Spa this past weekend with 2 of my girlfriends, and I left my cell phone in my locker while we hung out in the facility. We chatted about everything going on in our lives for 4+ hours, and I heard every word they said because I wasn’t distracted. I wasn’t busy looking at Instagram. I wasn’t on Tumblr reading through quotes while they spoke to me, or checking my Blog for new comments & followers. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, and I thoroughly enjoy the ability to send text messages, and browse Instagram, or Google search whatever pops into my head at a moments notice. What I don’t like is the disconnect technology in the palm our hands has created between individuals.
And it isn’t just in social settings & verbal interactions that people don’t listen. It also happens at work. And it happens IN WRITING! 9 times out of 10 when I send an email to a coworker or customer with multiple pieces of information, they’ll send a message back asking me something I JUST answered in the previous email I sent. I don’t understand why I even waste my time. I might as well fill the middle of my emails with “and then Jack jumped over the moon,” because nobody would know the difference anyway! It baffles me. And infuriates me. And tests what little patience I have. I don’t understand how you don’t listen to someone when you’re listening with your eyes. UGH.
I don’t know what it is going to take to get people to listen – but the little bit of uninterrupted conversation I shared with my girlfriends this weekend was enough for me to change. It was enough for me to become an active listener. To stop whatever else I am doing and pay attention to whoever is talking to me. To open my ears, and my eyes, and my body when somebody speaks to me. Verbally, or in written form. Is anyone even still engaged in this rant? Sheesh. Probably not!
I have been involved in a ton of misunderstandings – both in my personal & professional lives – and I would be willing to bet 99% of them could have been avoided if I, or the other person, would have just listened to what was being said. Opened their ears to the point I was trying to make; the apology I was trying to give; the answer I was trying to convey – instead of formulating their counter while I was still speaking. Too many people in this day & age do not listen at all. And of those who do listen, I bet 80% of them are listening to reply, instead of listening to understand.
Please, don’t be these people. Don’t make me, or anyone else, repeat themselves simply because you were too busy doing something else to pay any attention. If you’d rather read your Facebook feed, or watch dogs in sweaters on Instagram – just tell me.
I’d much rather you ignore me completely than give me the fraction of attention you aren’t currently giving to something else.