I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern developing in our society. I’d like to call it the “I’m-listening-but-not-really-because-half-of-my-attention-is-on-my-device” syndrom. To which most people, with said syndrom, will say with some invigoration, “I AM listening!” To which my response is, “No, no your not….”
Here’s why: Listening is more than being able to repeat back what you just heard. Just like learning is more than passing a test.
Listening, as I have come to learn, involves a person’s full attention to the speaker. Why? Because when somebody is communicating with you, they are not just saying words. They are also communicating with body language and expressions. Which, of course, are missed when ou’re staring at your mobile device. Thus, you’re really only getting half of that person’s message.
Not surprisingly, only recieving half of the message can lead to all sorts of problems. One of which is miscommunication. Another of which is loneliness and isolation on the speaker’s part.
…after all, if you were speaking to someone about your heart’s deepest desires, wouldn’t their blunt half-attention to you sting a little bit? It’s hard enough as it is to open up to a person. And do you really want to put a possible friendship in jeopordy because of a silly game…?
But putting down your mobile device is only half the battle. The other half is keeping quiet and actually listening — with empathy. Whether the person is right or wrong — or in other words, whether or not you agree with said person.
This can be hard. Oft times you just want to solve the problem. To fix the person. But you just can’t. You can’t. And that’s okay.
Most times, a person doesn’t even want to be fixed. They just want to be listened to. Not corrected. Not advised. Just listened to. No matter how well-meaning your advice is, it is best to keep it to yourself — or, to at least ask if they want your advice before opening your mouth.
Most, I believe, would, on occassion, love to speak and be heard. No arguments. No ‘here, this is how to fix it.’ Just…listening. Empathic listening.
Whatever happened to the empathic “I’m sorry?” I believe most of us are familiar with the one-uping people do. The all-familiar, “Psh, what I’m going through is way harder,” has become way to common in our society. I believe such an attitude comes from a lack of understanding that EVERYONE is going through hard things — things that are hard for them. Quite a hard thing to understand, to be frank. It’s not easy to overcome feelings of self-pity and self-centerdedness. Never has been, and I don’t think it ever will be.
Well, these are my two sense. To be left to the cyber world. Un-argued. Un-disturbed. Just there. Ready to be listened to.