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Are You Listening?

Friday, 27 July 2018

I was not always a good listener. In fact I was often an avid non-listener and didn’t realize how terrible at it I was. With ADHD and not growing up in a family that was big on healthy communication I didn’t know how to be an active listener. I would hear you up to the point where I had something I wanted to interject. Then I would jump in with both feet, never mind that you weren’t done talking yet. It took me a long time as an adult to learn to listen fully to what someone was saying and not dive in and interrupt them. It also took me a long time to then not keep thinking about what I wanted to say when they were done. Because then I still wasn’t really listening to them.

Active listening is an important skill set to learn I believe. It took me into my early 30’s with a lot of practice to start getting some accuracy and focus into my listening skills. I still practice them and work at them on a regular basis because I value healthy communication.

One of the things that I started to do in the early learning stages of trying to be a better listener was a technique called mirroring. I still use this skill today. Someone shares something with me and I say back to them “What I hear you saying is…” and then share what I heard them say followed by “Is that right?” Or some variation of those two sentences. This gives me the opportunity to cement what I heard and gives them a chance to tweak it if I misheard something. It means I have to be actively listening to be able to mirror back what I hear. I don’t use it all the time but it is a great tool to use in work conversations to make sure you have the details correct. It is also a wonderful thing to use in interpersonal conversations when you want to make sure that you are on point with what your partner or friend is sharing with you.

So I say all of that to now say I may have become too good of a listener. I listen so much that I have begun to rarely talk, interject and share. I began to realize this recently when while I was really struggling through some stuff in my own life. I found that I was listening to everyone around me and what was going on with them but no one was asking about me and I wasn’t introducing what was going on with me into the conversation. I think that being a good listener is a valuable skill set but it can’t be all I do. I have to still be a part of the conversation and share what’s going on with me as well. If I am not doing that am I still being genuine in my part of the conversation? It’s a question I have been asking myself lately and will likely continue to for a while.

I know some people would say that if the people I am talking to aren’t asking about me too then they don’t care. I will agree up to a point on that. The people I am very close to do ask how I am doing and take time to listen to me. It’s more of the next couple of rings out from friend and family central that I was getting this behavior from. So I am asking myself what is it in me that is encouraging this behavior and is it something I want to tweak or change? I think it will be something I want to tweak and I will have to figure out how I want to go about that.

There are many people in my life who are going through some heavy stuff lately so I am not alone in that. Much of this is about finding a balance I believe. Even more so when the lot of you are all going through things at the same time. In an ideal world you would experience tough times in staggered stages so you could help one another while not mired down in your own crap. Rarely does it work out that way though in my experience.

So, I am back to balance. I need to find the equilibrium of listening to those who are in need but also taking time for me to be heard as well. I can’t pour from an empty vessel. If I am always giving and not receiving, even in the outer circles of friendship it creates imbalance. And while temporary asymmetry is fine, a friendship cannot maintain, nor thrive in it. I will be looking at the circles where this behavior seems to flourish the most and be working on ways to feel more heard as well as hearing others out.

If you aren’t familiar with the circles of relations, friendship or connection below is a diagram.

 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Cas permalink
    Thursday, 6 February 2020 4:59 am

    Wow ! This is a great piece and reflected EXACTLY where i am at NOW in my life and listening – so many details mirror my own lik=fe, it was almost spooky!
    Thanks for sharing and keep writing good stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mags permalink
      Thursday, 6 February 2020 5:40 pm

      Thanks so much for the feedback Cas! This is still happening to me some but not nearly as much as it was. I just have to keep the balance. 🙂

      Like

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