Do you really listen?

Had dinner tonight with an old friend.  Hadn’t seen him in quite a while.  Ate at a little sushi place an old chef we are fond of started up.

As we were catching up on old times, he started talking about a class he had taken on communication.  One of the activities they did in the class was to group up with four other people, and with a timer took two minutes per person to talk about themselves.  Maybe it is human nature, or just the way our society has gone, but very few, if any of the people could last two minutes without interrupting the person that had the floor.  The instructor would start calling out the people that were talking out of turn.  The point of the exercise was to show that we do not actually listen to what the person speaking is actually saying.  We tend to feel that we have to put our two cents in.

I am just as guilty of this as many others.  I get upset and lose patience when people try to finish my sentences for me or jump in with an experience that they have had that is similar.  I get reminded that I do it too.  I have thought about this in the past.  I will be putting forward an effort to focus on what people are saying to me.  Listen, hear, process what it is that they are saying.  Stop my brain from wandering off and having me change the subject.  Show the person that what they are saying is important.

You never know what actually listening to someone, not just hearing, can do.  Maybe you could save someone’s life, just by taking a couple minutes to actually listening to what they have to say.  When you think about, you would want that person to listen to you.