Ever met someone for the first time, asked them their name over polite small talk, and then realized you didn’t hear a single word they said?
Ever had someone so certain they knew what you were going to say that they tried to finish your sentence for you?
Whether you’re the interrupter, the interrupted, or the one too distracted to really absorb what the person in front of you is saying, (and I’ve been all three), try to ask and then really, truly listen.
When I do, three things happen:
- Consideration replaces frustration.
- Confirmation bias takes a distant backseat.
- My inner monologue shuts up, leaving me room to learn something new.
I’m far from perfect at it, and am not above calling myself out, fessing up to tuning out and starting all over again.
That practice alone has helped me focus my attention exactly where it should be – not on me, but on the moment happening before me.
It’s helped me foster what could easily have been “nice to meet you, see you never” introductions into new friendships.
It’s led to Sunday School discussions challenging what I thought I knew, and prompted me to read “The Screwtape Letters” finally.
It’s created conversations I’d never have had otherwise, of hurts and hang ups and “I almost didn’t tell you because” moments, forging the kind of connectedness no amount of surface level chit chat ever could.
There are few things crummier than really needing to be heard, and sensing that the one you’re talking to couldn’t care less.
I refuse to be that person.
Instead, I’d rather be the one who prioritizes your words over mine, who pushes my own halfhearted conversational attempts to the side, and does for you what we can all do more of for each other.
I’d rather listen.