I've noticed one consistent commonality within human behavior and conversation. The majority of people don’t gives a shit about what the other person is saying.
Let me explain.
I was intently listening and observing two of my friends converse and share points of view over a specific topic. As each one would state their point of view I noticed something strange. Neither of them were acknowledging the other person’s point of view/statement. They were seemingly, ignored, as the other person rapidly went into projecting their own point of view.
Imagine a pinball machine as a conversation.
Now imagine the pinball as a thought.
Every time the pinball rattles against the sides of the machine the conversation swiftly jolts into a slightly different direction.
That’s how conversations appear to me, like a reckless epileptic pinball machine.
I interrupted their conversation to mention what I just saw, asking if either of them realised how they were ignoring each others statements. Both of them had no idea what I was talking about and continued.
Than I began consciously observing more interactions and noticed this trait is common among the large majority of people. Try it for yourself if you don’t believe me. Simply observe, be quiet. You will see.
But hold on, everyone can admit do ‘accidentally’ not listening or not completely engaging with another on occasion. Especially within the excitement of their own idea or story. You could also argue sometimes it’s just not needed to directly respond to an opposing statement.
But I think these are just bull shit excuses to justify poor communication skills and lack of social intelligence. The reality of the situation to me is …
No one’s talking with each other. They’re talking at each other.
People will often ask questions not because they genuinely care and have a vested interest in what you have to say. But rather because they feel morally obligated to feign politeness in order to satisfy the egotistical vanity of needing to project their own opinion and be heard.
Think back to the time someone asked ask “how are you — how was your week?”
You may reply with a comment about the most memorable part of your week that creates visible happiness and excitement within you. Before you know it, the person in front of you is already preparing to throw a completely unrelated story that vaguely relates, or even worse, a complaint — the second you stop talking.
So what’s the point of writing all this? I ask myself this question reflecting the intent of this piece.
One: To remind myself (and hopefully other’s) to have self-awareness and recognise a significant behavioral trait that many of us fall short on.
Two: To learn to be more present so we can connect, feel and understand.
At the end of the day human beings are creatures of meaning.
Creatures of purpose.
The moments of ecstasy and awe that expand our mind, heart and emotion come from deep and meaningful connections stemming from genuine curiosity.
Isn’t that what you want?
Isn’t that what we all want?
At the end of the day, when all that’s left is your dust and bones in the ground people will forget what you looked like. They’ll forget that outfit you spent thousands of dollars on. They’ll forgot almost everything you said BUT they will always remember how you made them feel.
So I propose this question.
Do you want your legacy to be of someone who never really touched the lives of the people around them? All because they were too caught up in talking about themselves to satisfy ego? Or would you rather people be excited to even have the opportunity to communicate with you and share your presence? I strive to create connections of real meaning and impact. To do this we have to listen intently, with empathy and compassion.
One Method To Practice…
Is to simply try and not speak a few times within the 2–10 second ‘pause’ that occurs in conversations. By doing this you practice actively letting a conversation breath. You give room for the other person to fully articulate and express their thoughts and feeling’s. Chances are they will say something to fill the pause. As a result, they will feel heard, appreciated and often come back to you because you demonstrate the rare trait of listening with intent and empathy.
In 4 words: Stop. Pause. Reflect. Respond.
I really believe you will drastically increase the chance of creating meaningful connections with people by implementing this to become a contentious active listener. People love to be heard. So let them. It will work to your advantage.
In all of the thousands of interviews conducted by Oprah Winfrey this is what she said she learnt
“If there’s one commonality between every single human being on this planet it’s the need to be heard.
There is a common denominator in our human experience everybody wants to know…
“Did you hear me?”
“Did what I say matter?”
So, fundamentally, the desire to be heard, the desire to be validated, the desire to know that what you’re doing is meaningful in the world is something that we ALL hold for ourselves.”