When someone talks to you, how often do you listen to them? Really LISTEN to them? How often are we just waiting until they are done speaking just so we can answer?
For me, I don’t think I really listen sometimes. My parents will of course will disagree with my use of the word “sometimes,” but let’s just let me have this one okay? Sometimes, I don’t listen to what people actually say. Oh, I am silent and looking at that person, but I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I have started my own inner monologue the moment someone else starts talking. That inner monologue will start dissecting what that person really means, not what they are saying it means. Because who ever actually says what they mean?
Probably a lot of us. Probably many of us who have decided speaking up for ourselves and trying to communicate is better than dealing with depression, anxiety, discrimination, pain and confusion. Sure, we are all going to pull out the old passive-aggression card once in a while, but there are enough people in this word who live their true selves to assume when someone decides they want to talk about something, what they say should be heard.
There have been times when I have been frustrated because of a friend listening to me starts talking about how that topic relates to them. It’s great to know someone can relate, but that doesn’t really feel like someone genuinely cared about what you were saying in the first place. However, I started noticing I do it too.
That’s when I tried listening. Not just looking at a person and being in earshot of them talk. Actually listening. I stopped thinking about what I thought every sentence secretly meant, and started trying to understand. I started to put myself in this person’s shoes and hear them out because there was a reason this person was standing in front of me and telling me things. Maybe they felt like they could confide in me. Maybe sharing this story was a big step in communicating for them. Maybe they just wanted to talk.
When someone wants to talk to you, take that as genuinely as you can. Don’t try to fix their problem unless they ask. Don’t tell them they are wrong or how your point of view may be that much better. Listen to them. Let them tell you their fears, worries, happy memories, every detail they want you to know. Decide that connecting with them is the best thing you could do for them. And when it’s your turn, explain. See what happens when two people are just there to understand.
Maybe then we won’t have as many problems.