When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” ~ Earnest Hemingway
I’m a talker. Ask anyone I know, and they’ll tell you it’s the truth. Honestly, I can’t help it. Part of it is that I’m an external processor. It’s difficult for me to sort through information without talking out loud. Sometimes I see it as a huge negative, and other times I simply try to embrace it as part of who I am.
However, recently I’ve been trying to shut my trap and listen to those around me. It’s amazing how easy it is to be in conversation with someone and listen distractedly. We listen, but for me, that includes hearing only what I want to hear. Or that means listening, but also thinking about what I want to say next. Why is it so hard to get out of our own heads long enough to really focus on what others around us are saying?
Do you know that person who always cuts you off when you’re sharing a story or talking about your day, that person who always has to give their two cents, before you’re done giving yours, or who has to cut in with an, “Oh, I…” statement before you even get to finish sharing that awesome thing that happened to you? It frustrating, right? I think we’ve all probably been that person at some point as well. I know I can be that way sometimes.
My friend Gretchen listens to me in a way that challenges me to listen to her in response. When I talk with her, I feel as though I’m saying something of the utmost importance, and it feels great to know someone is truly hearing the words I’m saying. I have her full attention. I’m challenged to hear her, and others, in return.
It’s difficult to close our traps and slow our minds long enough to hear those around us. BUT. Give it a try. Because I’ve been more intentional in the way I listen, Ive felt that conversations with friends have been that much more meaningful. The people I love deserve my undivided attention, and it feels great to honor that.