In my growing up years, I have loved listening to stories, from serious ones down to the lamest and craziest jokes from the people around me. A friend even told me that I am a good listener (especially to those who opens up their heart with all its pain, hurt, and stuff like that). For me, listening was a pleasure, one of the best things I can do for the people I care about.
Until text messaging and chat took its toll on my listening gift. Not that I don’t want to hear or listen to any story anymore, I just felt that the effect of the advanced technology made it both easier and harder to communicate.
And so I have this friend who always wanted to be listened to with all the attention of anyone she is speaking with. She wanted to be looked at while she’s talking, and you have to show it on your face that you really are listening. Otherwise, it is going to be a bit of a quarrel. There was this one time that she told me a long story (took her half an hour to finish) and to her surprise, she didn’t get any reaction from me for 5 long minutes. You don’t have to guess what happened we got into a fight after. 🙂
And of course, that made me talk but not about her story, but to defend myself.
I listened, yes I did, but it wasn’t enough that I just listened. I can rehearse everything she told me but I know that I was not fully committed to pay real and close attention to everything she is talking about. Whenever I recall that scene, I can’t help but smile but at the same time, it makes me realize that though I really didn’t wan to listen, I could’ve been decent enough to tell her to stop or even pause for a while, and divert the conversation to something else if I couldn’t really take every story that she was telling me about.
To be fully committed to listening, “just hearing” is not enough.
Later on, I realized that I started hating the thought of being listened to with undivided attention as well. I met a lot of good friends who casually look at their phones to read text messages and reply to some of it while having live conversations. I am no excuse of the same but I am really working on this. Being really there for a friend requires being present with your undivided attention.
Life can be too busy for most of us but if we agreed to meet and have a real conversation over a cup of coffee or tea, we must be really present with all that we are. Otherwise, it might be a waste of time on both ends. I still love being there for my friends, listening to their stories, and all I know now is that I don’t like the feeling of just being heard. i would love to be listened to with full attention no matter how drastic the reaction of the other party might be. And with that, I have to start doing the same thing whenever I am listening to anyone.
Do you have anything to share? I’d be present, I’d be listening… with all my heart and undivided attention this time. 😉