Note: I had written some blog posts sitting in my drafts that for some reason I wasn’t ready to share or haven’t flushed out yet. This actually wasn’t a bad post. Don’t know why I wasn’t feeling it enough to post when I wrote it. Oh well. Enjoy.
I recently had an interesting conversation with a guy I went on a pretty good date with over the weekend (Yes, folks, it’s Renaissance).
This was all via text.
We got into a conversation about things we wish we were better at or wanted to improve upon.
All of you know about my patience problem, my aversion to mathematics and my control issues.
So I shared, but tried to make them not sound too horrible, but also sound self-aware and open to improvement. I mean, I don’t want to send him off screaming. Geez.
He mentioned that he wanted to be a better listener.
Which threw me off.
A big part of his job requires that he listen to people and help them solve their problems. So how is it a man who listens to people everyday for a living says he wants to be a better listener?
His answer was a good one, an honest one and as a result, basically turned me on.
He went a few steps beyond just saying he wants to generally improve as a person, but he dropped these gems on me, and then I really got what he was saying.
It’s kind of like when black mothers ask you, “Do you hear me?”
Then grab you by the arm and say, “No, no, do you HEAR me?” Meaning, I’m not saying this for my health. I’m trying to help you and you need to not only just listen, you need to process this for real, for real.
He mentioned that it takes another skill set altogether to “understand what listening looks like to the speaker.”
You better say that.
“It all incorporates making sure the speaker feels listened to. That doesn’t come naturally. Or even making the speaker feel comfortable speaking with you. Each person is different so the cues you pick up may be different too.”
So it hit me. He’s right. People always want to feel like they’ve been heard. Even if you disagree or never had a similar experience so you can say you understand. There is an art to hearing people and a skill that has to be honed.
I’ve been told that when I’m passionate about something or mad, or I want to be heard, I tend to repeat myself and I can get loud (even when I’m not mad).
In the past, I blamed it on being the youngest and having to fight for and command attention from the older family members who were bigger than me and physically taking up more space.
But I do this because, I do in fact want to be heard. Sometimes, especially in relationships, you do have to wonder when you speak, what is your partner actually hearing?
Our life and experiences not only shape us, but it shapes the way we listen to and interpret information and while we may speak the same language, things can get lost in translation if one person grew up in a nurturing family, and the other did not. If you are male and I am female, if I had a certain level of education and you have more or less.
Keep in mind none of these things make us better or worse, but it certainly shifts perception and it does play a role in how we take in information depending on who that information is coming from.
I’ve been obsessed with the government shutdown situation and it’s a perfect example. Members of the House and Senate straight up don’t like the Affordable Health Care act, so it doesn’t matter if a budget needs to be passed or not to keep people working changes to the ACA were incorporated and that stopped everything in its tracks. Folks can’t agree.
Some people don’t like President Obama so anything he says or does, they won’t hear him. They won’t care about what he has to say. Some people can’t stand Republicans, so anything Republican, forget it. You won’t be able to break through.
So, that conversation led me to think, when I speak, am I being heard? And am I actively listening to others? Is the intended message getting the most accurate response to what my truth is and to what that other person’s truth is?