The (He)Art of Listening

Today I was called up by my lovely cousin with a problem. We met up yesterday and had dinner where we talked about relationships, our futures and how it was to be where we are now. She came to me with a problem this morning that was almost bringing her to tears and told me that she was trying to deal with an issue that had been brought up in an argument – apparently she had been told by some important people in her life that they thought she was self-centred and uncaring. Whenever they would come to her with an issue somehow the topic would swing around to what she was feeling of thinking and they would feel hurt.

When she explain this to me I immediately recognised the situation. Why? Because I had seen in it before. In myself.

Technically I hadn’t been told by anyone that I was self-centred but one day as I finished talking to a friend, I recognised that if I continued the way I was going – if I didn’t catch myself – I wouldn’t have any friends.

The whole problem: Listening!

The whole issue stemmed from a listening problem rather than a selfish problem. As with my cousin, my intention was not to come across as self -centred but because I did’t listen well it came across that way.

There had been one day (or a couple of days) I had been talking to my friends and I noticed (by myself) that I kept interrrupting them and and after one phone long conversation with a freind in after which I felt that I had been doing most of the talking, it coccured to e that I had a trait of self-centred ness that I hadn’t recognised before. It wasn’t that I had much more intereting things to say but I notticed that whenere she would say something I would jump in with ‘yea that happened to me too!” and subsequently divulge my on experiences. When I recognised this I realised that I wasn’t infact a good friend. I like to tell stories but I didn’t like to listen to other people. I thought I was listening but really I was always waiting for the moment to jump in with my reply or tell how I had been in that situation too. I t was then ( about a year ago now) that I started to look for ways to become a better listener. I am soo not their yet. This habit is a hard one to break and it takes a seriously conciouss effort to do so.

Things I’ve learnt:

1. Hearing is not the same as Listening

we can hear a sound but unless we pay attention to it and understand it we are not really listening.

2. Too much Empathy can be a bad thing

Empathy is great but when we over empathise to the point that we are always interjecting with our own stories we are not helping the person we are listening to.

3. Recognise that the other person wants to be understood and it is not all about you

4. Pay full attention to people and let them know that they are important

5. You feel better for having helped someone.


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