Monday, March 11, 2013

Listen...

It's not as easy as it appears...listening. You may be hearing something but listening actually requires you to process what you hear a little further. The wonders of listening are endless, but people seem to be doing it less and less. They may hear what you're saying, they may even sense your tone, but they could just pick up a word you said and just run with it hoping to God they have not exposed themselves to be far away from the conversation. Miscommunication from poor listening or lack thereof give rise to many issues most of which are trivial. Have you ever witnessed a conversation (more like an argument) where both parties are saying so much but it seems neither one actually heard what the other said? Instead, each party is more concerned with expelling what it is THEY want to say with complete disregard to what the other is saying.

Maybe the digital age is to blame. Have we gotten so used to reading and re-reading text at our 'earliest' convenience to reply only to confirm that we read? Only to take our time to calculate what to say; type, delete, type, erase, type, edit, type, send. When read off a screen, what is being typed in is sometimes not understood the same way when read out. Written and telephonic methods of communication are a blessing sometimes, but they certainly cannot compare to or do the job of face-to-face contact. That is also another cause of miscommunication in my opinion. But I digress.

There are various ways to categorize the different kinds of listening, but the following is more relevant and also sums it up quite nicely. The categories are as follows:
  1. Inactive listening: That's when you hear noise but your mind is elsewhere.
  2. Selective listening: You choose what you want to hear and run with it like an idiot.
  3. Active listening: When the noise is actually processed as words and you are aware of what those words mean.
  4. Reflective listening: This is listening while you engage with what is being said. This is like advanced level stuff, not a lot of people seem to be capable of doing it.
I know it seems a bit much to be fully aware and ready to really 'listen' at a moment's notice. You're brain is sometimes preoccupied making it difficult to focus when it is time to. And sometimes you really don't need to be listening intently. Other times, listening is so valuable.

I don't know about guys in this respect, but girls sometimes feel the need to talk and have someone actively listen.

Just listen.

We don't want an opinion,. We don't want a solution. We certainly don't want criticism. We just want to unload the matter off our chest. In some situations we may want your opinion or help, but you will know when that is. Just because you don't need to really have any input, doesn't mean you don't need to listen. On the contrary, it is vital that you listen intently! It's a sign of intimacy, and not necessarily in a romantic way. This could be our version of a cry for help I suppose. Or maybe this is something we are telling you because we want you to know. We feel comfortable and close enough to you to just let you in our heads for a brief time - guard down and completely vulnerable - as we regurgitate our thoughts and emotions that we have been struggling to suppress. So when we are in such a fragile state and you can't be bothered to pay attention long enough for that, forgive us for being upset, but I believe in such cases we have every right to be.

This applies to every possible form of human relationship, certainly the close ones at least. Just being there for someone to simply listen is a testament of how the person before you loves and cares for you. Allowing someone to just talk while you just listen with very little input on your part may not seem like much, but showing someone you care to hear what they have been thinking/feeling is.

Bad listeners: those who simply like to hear themselves talk, or are arrogant enough - even rude enough - to belittle what's being said, always cutting in to say what THEY think of the matter, ignoring how others may feel. Those who always have an answer for everything, and it's usually the wrong one. Those who always somehow turn the whole ship around and have the audacity to make it about themselves. Yeah, those assholes..not the best listeners. That could be because they simply don't care, or they are in desperate need of a listener themselves but are probably too proud to admit it or allow it.

It does require a little sensitivity to recognize when someone needs you to be there for them to listen. But it really does allow you to get closer and closer to a person; to understand them better and consequently show them that you deserve their trust. You'll slowly be able to read beyond what is being said to what is being  thought and even felt. If you are with someone you cannot be bothered to do such a thing for, you are with the wrong person. You should not be with someone if you have to censor your thoughts and feelings with them either, calculating everything that's being said.

Some people have it the wrong way, though. They are always on alert and firmly believe that whatever words you use to form whatever sentences you make is not what you mean, when that's exactly what it boils down to. You know them, they over-analyze and insist there's something 'up' when there's absolutely nothing up or down. That's taking it a bit to far, me thinks. Then you have some people who just fail to properly communicate what they think and have the worst choice of words. Put those two together and the relationship just might work out, or be one disastrous miscommunication after the other.

Don't underestimate the simple power of listening, but don't push it Freud...

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