Can You Hear Me Now

BrockaHealth & Wellness, Mood Room, RelationshipsLeave a Comment

no question mark

My last boss thought I interrupted him too much. I did. I broke the habit…around him. I cringed inside every time I heard myself do it. Our facial expressions would conform into the same shape simultaneously, as his frustration-fueled anger matched my internal disgust at not having nipped the terrible habit in the bud.

When I interrupt you I’m being anxious, I’m excited. Know when I interrupt, it’s because I know where you are and I feel like I can anticipate where you are going.

But it’s downright awful and rude, too; don’t get me wrong.

I’ve become a  much better listener as I’ve gotten older. I really like mindfully paying attention. As simple as it sounds, it’s not so easy to do. But from the morning to the night…I am deliberate: podcasts, ebooks, music, and my work environment. The podcasts addiction has done more than teach me a whole grocery store full of things; it has enhanced my listening skills, and given my insight into how we communicate with one another. I’ve come to a point where I plan my quiet and relish it, too.
I was listening to the David Axelrod podcast interview with Michael Steele, a previous RNC chairman. He told the story of his adoption and Catholic rearing, and anecdotes on how his mother raised him. Towards the end, there is a great nugget of wisdom. His mother had noticed that he would immediately start talking when he walked into a room. She told him frankly he ‘needed to sit down and shut up.’
[I shared this podcast on Twitter and was admonished for listening to the über-liberal David, but I responded rightfully, ‘listening is not partisan’, all before this blog was taking shape…
Twitter is Ground Zero, home turf of reactionary. It is the antithesis of listening. I’ve come to view it and use it with disdain.
Growing up has significantly quieted me down. Maybe this is growing up: being ok not needing to rush in. The comfort of sitting back and viewing; not being reactionary. The flip-side to my listening skills is what grew me up. I was always around adults and adult conversations as an only child. A few of them even openly admitted not liking children or wanting to have children, thus I didnt want to project myself as being childish around them. I was the fly on the wall. And I was precocious enough that anything I added to the conversation was minimal but startling.
[Aside: my 3rd grade teacher (when I was 8) called my mom to a teacher conference to specifically tell her I was ‘too precocious.’ My mother cried, mainly because she didn’t know what the word meant and had to look it up.]

And speaking of, what’s really helped me break the habit of interrupting is seeing how my family speaks. These conversations are speaking AT, not with or for the communication. A lot of families speak at each other. Think, hormonal teens to their parents and vice versa. In my grandmother’s den, every story is overlapped by another’s intrusion. itssofuckingsannoying. I’ve been known to pause myself and say ‘stop interrupting me, let me finish!’ My irritation and observation forced my own change.

 Interrupting is the most obvious indication the person isn’t even listening to you, as they are only thinking about themselves and what they want to say.

listening

I’ve known since my teenage years, during pow-wows with my peer group, the same advice we give others: it’s the same advice we need to hear for ourselves.
Regardless of hearing, we can not learn, we can not know, and we can not become in tune with ourselves or our environment without listening.
From yoga to extreme sports, a constant refrain is ‘listen to your body.’ Hearing is not just listening but internalizing, digesting.

Of course we all have moments of excitable civility when we sit across from another with a coffee or tea or wine or cocktail and the entire meeting is anticipatory and anxious, so the dialogue performs like a circus: highs and lows, excitement and pensive calm, comfortable silences even…depending. This is all well and general and not specifically what i’m speaking of. We already come into these settings with the implication of rambling or catching up.

I feel certain our best conversations happen when we aren’t even looking at the other. When we are riding in the car staring out onto the road; when we are sitting on the porch staring out onto the landscaping or the street; when we are sitting at a bistro watching passersby; when we are lying on the couch or the bed staring into the nothingness of a ceiling or room space. I would suppose we’ve evolved to learn so well the minute facial expressions, actually speaking face to face diminishes our ability to listen well, because it does the same thing interrupting does: we are anticipating based on visual cues. It can be a distraction. To listen well is to not multi-task. I say this in no way to diminish the importance of involuntary reads and instinctual visual perceptions but to make further clear that real communication requires focus.

As blind people have learned to hear more than seeing people can, it is an acute sense worth practicing.

Consider when we are learning something new, how deliberate we are with focusing and listening. Out of habit and necessity to carry on, we casually brush this intention aside during most conversation.

I’ve gone on enough, you get the point 🙂

{Hear me now and Hear me out -could be a song lyric. My music writing brain reads and hears so much in a rhythm.}

Addendum: I have spent 80% of the day in utter silence, moving from task to task. Silence is the most relaxing thing to me, truth be told. And 100% the main reason why I don’t want to have children. Quiet.

 

 

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