I’ve never really thought about it but I guess I’d thought I was a good listener … until I stepped outside myself and asked some people, women, about listening. What I found out showed me that, at least now, I’m just another ‘guy’ and guys aren’t necessary good at listening.
I thought just letting the other person talk and hearing what they said and thinking about that and responding to that was, somehow, listening. And maybe if I was listening to another guy, that might be correct – but if I was listening to a woman … well it turns out there’s more to it than that.
How I respond and what I say reflect my gender if I’m not wary. For instance, I’m male and that means I’ll try to come up with suggestions of ways to ‘fix’ whatever is ‘wrong’ if someone is complaining about their life. I thought that was just me, or the ‘kind of person’ I am. And I guess that’s correct, ‘males’ work that way apparently.
So I’m trying to figure out how and where I’m not listening and when I search for listening in google I find lots of hits from sites that help guys score points with women by becoming ‘better listeners’ … I can understand the whole courting thing … it just seems a little mercenary to go about changing yourself so you can be more successful in the mating game. Or become a reasonable facsimile of a desirable person.
Then I find things like ‘The Art of Listening’ by Brenda Euland.
I like this piece. It makes more sense and leads to a better person whose success pervades their lives beyond mere romance. Not to trivialize romance but there is more to life and being a person is deeper than ‘facsimile concern’.
Coincidentally when I went hunting around the site where I found Ms. Euland I came across Donella Meadows’ ‘You Are What Goes Through Your Mind’ and found the timing funny. Ms. Meadows suggests using the off switch on the TV more often – and in less than a week my cable goes away. Woohoo!! I have canceled it. Takes too much time away from life and I’m paying for that. Seems kind of silly to be paying for something that’s hurting more than helping. We’ll see how it goes …