What did I just say?

One of the things I’ve learned in the recent year or so is to communicate what it is I’m thinking. Sounds easy enough, right? Instead of spending a great deal of time waiting for other people to figure out what I’m thinking (they don’t, by the way), I can just verbalize it and we can move forward.

Theoretically, it should work. Unfortunately, the reality is that it requires an active listener to be successful.

Here is something else I’ve learned ~ listening is a skill. One can’t fully listen if they’re distracted by a text, a computer, traffic, the television, dogs barking, etc. Oh, and one more thing…we can’t listen if we’re already forming our response before the speaker is finished. Sounds like Communication 101? Yep, it really is. Even so, we need to be reminded from time to time to just step back and really hear someone.

Here’s something that happened to me just this weekend! I spent a fair amount of time ~ maybe 15 minutes ~ explaining to someone why I felt a certain way. I tried a couple of different tactics from the indirect to the very direct. Each time I barely completed a verbalized thought, there was an immediate response. It was immediate because the “listener” was already formulating the response while I was speaking. I’m not suggesting for a moment that I haven’t been guilty of this, too! What I AM suggesting is that we’re all so busy with the business of life that we’re not really hearing what’s important.

Last week at the grocery, my son noticed a little boy, about 2 or 3, just yapping at his mom continuously while she tried to check off things from her shopping list. She gave him the obligatory “uh-huh”, “oh, really?” and “that’s great” every few seconds or so and he was content with that like little ones will be. Basically, she was tuning him out. I remember when Nick or Devon got a little older than 3 and I would do what this mom was doing and then they called me out. “Mom, what did I just say? Do you even know?” Well, now there is a little embarrassment for you….no, I had no idea what they were talking about at all. And why?…because I thought whatever I was doing was more important.

My time yesterday, speaking to someone about an important subject, was wasted. I know it was wasted because that same person has come to me since then and asked me what’s wrong. Wow….15 minutes of effort for nothing. So what are we to do? Keep yapping like a 3 year old in the grocery store or just stop talking?

Maybe instead of setting weight goals, we set really important goals like carving out time to hear what people are saying. Maybe instead of ¬†pretending to listen, we really do. Maybe instead of speaking, we just absorb…and then respond.