I have a very dear friend who spends an enormous amount of time accusing me of not listening. Usually when this friend decides to accuse me of not listening I simply do not listen. Sometimes I laugh it off. Sometimes I quickly agree with him to get him off the topic. But for some reason the other day when he for the gazillion-th time accused me of not listening, something happened, I suddenly found myself deeply concerned about this idea that I do not listen. I realized I needed to figure out if it is true because I honestly thought I was a good listener.
So I found a quiet spot, sat down with myself, and searched every corner of my brain for the truth, Am I truly a bad listener? No one wants to be labeled as a bad listener. No one goes to a dinner party and brags to his friends, "Yeah, I have some pretty bad listening skills."
Has being interrupted and distracted constantly for the last twenty five years as a mother of seven kids caused this? Did I listen when I was born? Did I listen when I was a teenager? What does it mean to listen? Who even listens anymore? It takes so much time and sacrifice to be a good listener.
I decided that the next step in figuring out if the accusation was true or not was to remember a moment when I knew I was being listened to, so that I was sure I understood what listening was. You know when you are in the presence of a good listener because:
They sit down with you and look at you.
They do not check their watch
They do not check their phone
They do not turn to look at other noises in the room
They ask you questions,
They never act like time matters
The television is never on,
They clear their brain and are seriously focused on you.
Not many people have time for all that but when you meet someone who does it it makes an amazing difference in your life. I love that feeling when you are with someone who is a good listener they make you feel special and important and who does not appreciate that feeling?
You know I googled, "What is a good listener?" I knew Google would not let me down. In the results I saw an article published in the Huffington Post called, "9 Things Good Listeners Do Differently." I immediately clicked on the link and read every word. The article listed nine things a good listener does and here they are:
1. They are present. Need to work on this one.
2. They are empathetic. Got this one.
3. They realize their shortcomings. I find new ones daily.
4. They have an open mind. I think it is open until I realize it is not.
5. They are emotionally intelligent. I wish
6. They pose significant questions. I do not have a problem with asking questions as you all know.
7. They are not on the defensive. I am not a bad listener :)
8. They are okay with being uncomfortable. I think my whole life is uncomfortable.
9. They are good leaders. I adore following.
As I have pondered and pondered on this topic I wondered if what this friend meant to say to me was that I am not a good remember-er? Because that is true. I often have a hard time remembering which may cause you to think I did not listen.
Or maybe because I am not very good at completely agreeing with everything he says he thinks I am not a good listener? :)
Maybe it is that I have this annoying habit of asking you about something we talked about earlier even though I already know your answer. My own father calls me out on this habit I have often.
Sometimes I want to have the conversation again.....yeah, I may or may not have issues :)
Sometimes, I just want to confirm I heard it right. I guess it could be called double checking?
Or maybe I am trying to show you that I do listen by bringing it up again and you think it means I did not listen?
I have been known to listen to my music loud does that count as listening? :) It embarrasses my children immensely. They get in the car and quickly turn it down exclaiming, "Mom, you can hear the music outside." I just like to feel it all around me.
The 14 year old tells me at least 100 times a day that I do not listen but what she means to say is that I am not responding to her requests the way she wants me to so her opinion does not count :)
The kids on my bus wish I did not listen so well. Last Friday I heard a kid say a word that it is not okay to say on my bus and I made him come and sit by me and as he plopped himself in the seat behind me he grumpily asked me why I listen.
Not to brag but my listening skills have helped me catch teenagers trying to sneak out of the house.
So I have decided I am not the best listener and this friend may be right. Being still and focused is sometimes hard for me. My brain is always moving. So I am adding to my "Making Jennifer Great" list:
Being in the moment
and not thinking ahead.
Oh yeah, and listening.