We men are bombastic creatures, not accustomed to listening to anyone, ESPECIALLY if the person we are expected to listen to is of the other sex, a child of either sex, or anyone, frankly, who is too timid, or just well-mannered enough, not to voice his opinion at the top of his lungs.
I know this to be a fact. Last month, sitting around a picnic table in the back yard of my friend’s seventy-year-old craftsman-style home, listening to Steely Dan and drinking a craft beer so dark and heavy that I was bloated after downing one bottle, I stopped talking and my three yammering friends droned on, without pause, about topics–like tariffs–that they know nothing about. My reaction was to simply shake my head, and the wives–they just ignored us altogether.
And it’s not just the steady stream of BS that is annoying, it’s that they don’t LISTEN–at all. And because they don’t/won’t listen, it isn’t a conversation–it’s just an inane diatribe.
Now, I was no better. I was not a listener. I have been known to stop talking during a conversation, but that isn’t the same as listening. And sitting at that picnic table, full of beer that was brewed somewhere in the state of Washington, waiting for the peach cobbler, I realized that I had to learn to be a listener. How? You have to hear what someone else says. And it has to register, make an impression, resonate–whether you agree with what they are saying or not.
After much trial and error, I learned a few things about listening: here is what I have to share:
1. Look at the person who’s talking to you. I had a tendency to look around when someone was talking to me, especially if there was a tv in the room, and if there was a football game on the tv, I never looked at the person who was talking.
2. Once looking, engage your brain.
3. IMPORTANT! Don’t talk ’til the other person has stopped talking.
4. Then, before you talk, think about what you’re going to say. And make sure what you say is directly related to what they said.
5. If you didn’t understand what they said, ask them to repeat it. Don’t pretend that you understand.
6. Speak, then shut up and repeat.
Once a day, every day this week, have a conversation with someone in which you make a determined effort to listen. Then open your notebook and down WHO the conversation was with and WHAT was discussed.
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