Listening in Real Time

It's interesting how many times someone has emailed me or called (or how many times I have emailed or called someone) with a long rant about some issues. Then, by the end of the phone call they say, "Wow, ok I think I'm good...uh, I don't need you to do anything after all!"
So, you hang up and think...Geeze, I didn't actually do anything but listen! But isn't this more powerful sometimes than a lot of dialogue?

My Mother and my Gramma Stever were two of my favorite people growing up. I loved that they were both unconditionally loving people and very good listeners. My mind can be a bit all over the place and I would consider myself a good listener, but not great at it. I am zeroing in on why I am not great at it when I think I could be...someday.... lol

What I have noticed about myself is my tendency to offer advice either too quickly or based on where I think their part of the conversation is headed. I have heard so many stories in my life that are similar, that I think what my mind has a habit of doing is assuming the next sentence out of a person's mouth will be what I have heard so many times.

Well, obviously in our society today, it can be easy to see the similarities in each person's life. A lot of people are depressed. A lot of people are out of work. Many people have health concerns. Many people are experiencing bad relationships. While I am listening to many people, my mind will wander to where the National Average goes. "X"% of people are unhappy, so this is what is wrong with the person. I like to think one of my traits is to attempt to approach things from a non-judgmental p.o.v. but I think what needs to happen more is to start slowing my brain down.

My question overall for myself is, "Am I listening in real time?" When someone is talking, am I already drawing conclusions or am I hearing them out to the end of THEIR thoughts not mine?

It's easy to shut off what someone is saying because we don't have time or we are tired. It's kind of like a boring sermon at church. We find ourselves saying, "Oh yeah, heard this before" and we snooze. But what if during our catnap, some information was offered that we didn't know was coming and couldn't possibly have predicted? It's the same when a friend is talking to us about their thoughts, feelings or opinions. There is an inclination that creeps in and has us summing up their life before they are done their thought based on thinking, "Yeah, I have heard this before."

The groovy part of allowing someone to talk until they are done is I have found that more often than not, they were able (and just didn't know it) to fix whatever was bugging them. Why? Because they could actually hear what they were saying without interruption. When we are enormously upset about an issue, it's easy to entangle our poor brains in too many conflicting thoughts that don't offer solutions. I have had many experiences of being allowed to articulate my thoughts and the solutions were apparent upon hearing myself say them! Arguments tend to cut thoughts off and add too many new ones. There is nothing more aggravating in a dispute than to have someone say, "I already know what you're going to say." That is so unfair. Yes, I agree some people are skipping records, but chances are, if their record is skipping, we may have to take a closer look to see if the problem comes from a big scratch in the record or if there is some lint on the needle. We kind of have to allow the record to skip again to investigate.

Wondering if my record analogy works in this year, lol

"A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while, he knows something." ~Wilson Mizner

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