We love to talk -- to our friends, family, on the phone. Our lives would be so much lonelier if we were deprived of the pleasure of communication. What a lot of us don't realise though, is that talking is almost useless unless there is someone who listens. Introducing, the Bad Listeners. We all have that one friend or even parent or sibling who simply cannot listen. While some are quite aware of being a useless shoulder to cry on, there are others who are completely oblivious of the fact that they too need to hone their listening skills. Read on to see if you are one of these people.
Situation 1: Your friends are talking while you are browsing Facebook or Whatsapping on your phone. Suddenly they all burst out laughing and you look up from your device, eager to know what the joke is all about; they simply shrug and say, “You had to be there man, you missed the moment.” If this seems like a common scenario, then you need to pay more attention to what your friends around you are saying, rather than those sitting behind a screen.
Situation 2: Your friend is chatting with you about that movie she watched recently. After a few minutes you realise she is talking about something else entirely and you have no idea how she got there. Known as 'zoning-out', it means you got bored and basically slept with your eyes open while she kept talking. Needless to say, this does not qualify you as being a great listener.
Situation 3: Your boyfriend is talking to you about some new games he is thinking of playing. He's enthusiastic and excited when you cut him off and say, “Does my hair look okay?” He blinks a little and says, “Yeah, it's fine. Now as I was saying, in this game the player…” “No, I don't think so, something doesn't feel right. I'll just go fix this,” -- with that you get up to tend to your hair. If this scenario does not seem strange to you, then you, my friend, need to invest in cotton buds. Interrupting someone with a completely unrelated topic while they are talking about something is not only rude, but also a clear sign that you weren't listening to what they were saying.
Situation 4: You're telling your friend about your recent break up. He sympathises, pats you on the back and sighs. Then, before you get to say more than “dude, she broke up with me,” your friend dives into his own memories, and sobs over his own heartbreaks. As you console him, you realise that you ended up being the listener.
Situation 5: Your friend is feeling upset, so you go over and tell her to let it all out, because you're a great listener, you really are. Except when she does start talking you keep interrupting her every five minutes to dwell on something similar that happened to you, eventually making the conversation more about you than about her, and you leave saying “good talk”, which just leaves her feeling perplexed and confused.
While a lot of us admit that we are not great conversationalists, there are very few who realise that being a good listener is just as difficult, if not more. Listening requires patience, attention and a desire to be there for the person confiding in you.
Now, where are my headphones?