Monday, February 27, 2017

DO YOU LISTEN


Just the other day I was walking through Walmart when an older couple I had never met before approached me. It is standard in small towns that if you make eye contact, it is natural to speak.  The woman smiled and spoke to me. Thinking I had heard,  "Hi there," I smiled back, said "hi there" back and kept walking. 

It wasn't until I had gone around a corner that it dawned on me what she had actually said.  She hadn't just greeted me, she had said, "Nice hair." 

I  absolutely do not have many good hair days so I wasn't even thinking along those lines. Embarrassed by brushing off her compliment, I tracked her down. I explained that I misheard her and thanked her for the lovely compliment. She just smiled sweetly and said she loved the natural white color. That pretty much made my day and I almost missed it by not listening.

This next part is reworked from 2009.

That started me thinking about the art of listening. Yes it is an art and a skill, which too few people including me have not bothered to hone. There are different kinds of listeners. 

Some people are what I call "pouncers." They are like predators, always watching for that opening in a conversation, usually when you take a breath. Then they can leap in with their similar yet better story or their superior way to have handled a similar situation.   

Unfortunately, the "impatient listener" is me in a nut shell. If something is brought up by a speaker that I want to know more about, I will ask my question, right then, often while the person is in mid sentence. My excuse is that with my memory, I have to ask while the question is hot or it is gone.

However I often totally derail the speaker and they struggle to get back to the original point after taking care of me. Bad Patti. I really am trying.  

Fortunately, most people fall somewhere in between but then there are the masters of listening. They are in a class by themselves. We certainly don't need every one to be like this for it would then the world would be eerily quiet. However, an occasional one is a real treat. I had such a friend and I hope you have one, or better yet, that you are one.

Jeanne', a dear friend, was the consummate listener. I had seen her mesmerize men who always complemented her on how easy she was to talk with.  In actuality, the men had done almost all of the talking without realizing it. She just gently quizzed them and somehow made them more interesting than even they realized.

She did this not only with men but with everyone--- strangers, women and children.  The amazing thing is that it was not a ploy with her.  She sincerely thought most people fascinating and it translated. There is a fine line here between being skillful and just plain nosy. She never crossed that line.

The writer in me makes me a decent listener as I am always looking for that story. However, I still have that "interrupter" thing going on. Approaching 80 but still a work in progress. Guess we are never done.

Recognize your self here or perhaps you have a very different slant you want to share? I am listening-- and thanks to blogging, it is impossible for me to interrupt you.

55 comments :

  1. Confession time! I'm usually a pretty good listener. But if I find myself bored for any reason, I slip into my own train of thought, only half listening to the speaker. I listen enough so that I know when to pay close attention again, or to respond.

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    1. Carole,
      I do that too but usually get caught when the speaker stops for a bit then asks"Where did I leave off." Luckily there is usually one person who can solve the puzzle for the rest of us can't.

      Delete
  2. Sadly I think I'm a bit of a pouncer!

    I'm glad the lady gave you a compliment about your hair, I bet it made your day. No one chats to me in Walmart. Ha!

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    1. Joey,
      I think most people are. Yep it did make my day. Being old, white haired and wrinkled doesn't usually elicit compliments.

      Delete
  3. I too, think you have beautiful hair. How nice it was of that older woman to give you that special compliment and in turn, for you to find her and thank her. You are right, smaller communities are so pleasant to live in.

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    1. Belva,
      Aww, thank you. It is thinning so quickly these days--sigh. Yes, small towns are a joy.

      Delete
    2. Patti
      It doesn't show in pictures and if it's thinning, you must have started with tons of hair.

      Mine is so thin that I gasp if I find one hair in the sink. I told you the Chinese herbs (unintentionally) returned my hair to brown. Whoopy Ding. Who cares when I can count the hairs. LOL

      Delete
    3. Belva,
      It is not so much general thinning, it is more like it's disappearing in spots leaving a nice pink strip of scalp. Fortunately I have enough left so that it only shows if the wind blows:))

      Delete
    4. Hahahahaha
      We'll have to become a fan of stocking caps.

      Delete
  4. Walmart chats usually include, "can you reach the juice?" etc. Or "What aisle is toilet paper on? etc. Sometimes it is dangerous to speak to anyone in Walmart or you will find them chasing you down for further discussion. LOL

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    1. Granny,
      I am such a short shaver that I am probably one of those asking for something out of reach. Love big tall guys. Never had a stalker yet. There is hope.

      Delete
  5. I think you have nice hair, too. Glad someone made your day by pointing it out. And I am married to a consummate listener, and I've learned to be less of a "pouncer" by emulating him. :-)

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    1. Djan,
      Why thank you too. You my dear are so lucky. You have this smart guy who is also a great listener. That is one keeper.

      Delete
  6. When people say nice hair to me, I ask "Which one?"

    I think I listen pretty well. but I have to suppress the urge to pounce and am sometime guilty of interrupting.

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    1. joeh,
      I try too but it is a hard instinct to break. The rate I am losing my hair, I may have to borrow your one liner:))

      Delete
  7. I'm so pleased for you that that woman gave you a compliment on your pretty hair. My grandmother used to say that she had silver hair because God had decided she deserved extra special topping to her life. I think all of us who have lived long enough to have this silver topping deserve a compliment.
    As to listening and interrupting, remember, I live in a house with a man with hearing aids, and two teenagers.....so it depends on which way the wind is blowing whether I get listened to or interrupted. hehehehehe

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    1. Linda W.
      Yikes, with that household, I think I'd write memos. My sympathies:))
      I like the white but often wondered why we couldn't go golden haired to match our years.

      Delete
  8. I work at controlling my inclination to interrupt.

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    1. Stephen,
      Wonder if there is a 12 step program for that? I am just so curious, I can't wait till the end to ask my question.

      Delete
  9. I think I'm a listener. I like to hear what people are saying and thinking. I ask questions, but mostly I like to listen. That way, I don't have to talk!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. robin,
      You sound like one of the best kind. But you shouldn't shy away from talking. You have such interesting things to say.

      Delete
  10. I learned the art of listening when I worked for the church... Part of my job was LISTENING to people as they strolled into my office just wanting to chat... I had to go to work about 7 a.m. in order to get some 'real' work done before people came to visit... The visit-time was important (not for me as much as for the people who needed to talk)... It wasn't always easy --but so important... Giving small compliments is always so important and SO helpful. People these days are SO busy that we've lost a lot of this art... Kinda sad....

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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    1. Betsy,
      I so agree that it is sad that we no longer take the time to give out small compliments. Think I will work on that.
      I am so glad you were there for the people who needed a friendly ear. That is worth so much.

      Delete
  11. My husband is a listener, but NOT a rewmemberer!!

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    1. Fran,
      Ha ha, I would guess an attorney would be a good listener and I am sure he had a staff to do the remembering. Guess that is your job now.

      Delete
  12. I read somewhere that if you see something you'd like to compliment, then you should do it right then and there. I find this hard to do. But I did complement an older woman the other day saying that it was wonderful that she had such thick hair. It was gray... but it was extremely thick and usually our hair thins as we age. She was pleased and said that it certainly had been thicker when she was younger.

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    1. Rian,
      I know what you mean. I use to have annoyingly thick hair, not so much these days so that is why the compliment seemed special. Way to go passing on good feelings. Something we all should do.

      Delete
  13. I tend to be an interrupter which is not a good thing with my staff. I try to remember WAIT (why am I talking) when I'm having lengthy conversations or discussions. I've gotten better, especially when I use the questioning technique instead of statements.

    My friend C is a master listener. She has such a talent for it when talking with people at work. Yet, she has difficulty in situations where she is meeting new people. I've been to a few events where it is clear she is uncomfortable approaching people. Me, not so much.

    Eileen

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    1. Eileen,
      I know that interrupter urge. Hey, I'm still working on it. Your friend sounds like she has mastered the art. I guess if you are a great listener, it is hard to start a conversation. Maybe you could be her wing girl and get things going.

      Delete
  14. I can't decide. sometimes I am a patient listener, but I think that is the case when I really don't care that much what I am hearing. If I really want to know about the topic, or I really want to know what the speaker thinks or feels, I can be much more impatient. Then I am a questioner, but I do try not to be an interrupter.

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    1. Linda R,
      I admire your patience. I find it so hard to wait when something is brought up that I want to know more about. Good chance if I wait for Q & A, it will be gone. Sigh.

      Delete
  15. I'm a pretty good listener - mediation training helped with that - but I do interrupt sometimes. I rationalize that it's okay because I'm curious. Still, I guess it's rude.

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    1. Linda M,
      I had no doubt with your mediation skills that you would be a good listener. I know, that curious bug can be hard to override though I prefer to think it shows interest rather than rudeness. I'm sure the speaker has a different take.

      Delete
  16. Mike always said he felt in love with me because I was so easy to talk to. He loved to talk and I was a good listener.

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    1. Olga,
      If ladies today only knew that really listening is the sexiest thing a woman can do. Ask any man.

      Delete
  17. I've always been an observer and a listener. Even as a child, I watched and listened. I've become a pretty good interpreter of body language, too. I love when people tell me they like my white hair. I tell them all you have to do is get really old and let nature take it's course.

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    1. Barb,
      Ha ha, you are so right. All it takes is patience and longevity.

      Delete
  18. My father was from a town of 300. He greeted everyone with "Hello Neighbor." Once in a city he greeted a black man that way and almost found himself in a fight. The man thought he'd uttered a racial slur.

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    1. Linda,
      Wow, I can see how that happened. Something innocent heard in an entirely different context. Bet your Dad was shocked.
      That is a common greeting here also.

      Delete
  19. I spent the morning walking with a friend, and we never stopped talking over each other and interrupting. That's because the rest of the time we try to be patient listeners and speak succinctly. It's nice to have a friend you can "spill" with.

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    1. Annie,
      Hi thanks for stopping by and for the comment. I hadn't thought about it but you are right. I think we all have someone like that and yes it is comfortable.

      Delete
  20. Reading this made me remember to put my hearing aids in. I miss hear similar words all the time without them in, so I can understand how you felt, missing the compliment.

    I'm a listener but will ask questions to keep a person talking so that I don't have to. Then I'll go home and write about it. LOL

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    1. Jean R,
      Yea, I felt rather rude. That is funny about asking questions. I do that too and yes, it can turn into a story.

      Delete
  21. I've always been a pretty good listener, but I think I'm becoming more impatient. Due mostly to not being able to remember as well as I once did and I want to say what I have to say before I forget it! Or jump in with a question while I'm thinking of it. Bad me. I'll try to do better because it's annoying when it's done to me!

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    1. Cheryl,
      I think we suffer from the same affliction. I know, I am trying too.

      Delete
  22. I didn't realize I was a poor listener until I joined Alcoholics Anonymous 28 years ago. After two years of trying to analyze everything and getting nowhere I was gently told to shut my mouth and try listening for a change. What a difference it made and it's been a life saver ever since.

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    1. Ginnie,
      I think you said you watched Mom also. Does that mean you were kind of a Marjorie? The great thing is that you listened to the gentle nudge and changed. That says a lot about you.

      Delete
  23. Really important observations you make about listening -- one we all could probably benefit from by doing more of. Knowing when to be silent and just listen truly matters.

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    1. joared,
      Thank you. I think the majority of us need some work.

      Delete
  24. Oh yes, I am fortunate to have friends like that and I'm doing my best to emulate them. I can't say I've mastered that talent though.

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    1. Kay,
      Aren't those friends so special? We all don't need to get that way though or things will get really silent:)) That's my excuse anyway.

      Delete
  25. I always have good hair days because I do not have much hair.

    Listening is an art form. Most people do not know how. They "hear", but they do not "listen".

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  26. Keith,
    Good to see you back. Maybe someday they will include Listening 101 along with the other requireds. Wouldn't hurt.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I think I read somewhere some bears were waking early due to warmer temps. Do bears even think like we do, though we sometimes tend to think o numerous other creatures doing so, is what I wonder. Weird thoughts pop into my mind from time to time, too, and can often see humor from a strange - to some - perspective. Keeps life interesting.

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