Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you know they hear you but really are not listening? Perhaps they seem lost in their own thoughts? Or maybe they are busy doing other things while they “talk’ to you? It’s frustrating to say the least. How frustrating depends on how much value you put into the conversation and relationship.
For example, I can remember being in class not too many years ago. The teacher asked a question, I raised my hand and was called upon. I began to speak and then she started to engage in another conversation completely. I waited a moment and she did not stop. When I realized she wasn’t going to bring her attention back to me I decided to just say odd things like what I was going to have for lunch. I then stopped again, she looked back at me and said, “That is a great observation. I like how you handled that.” Clearly, I was not being listen to. How much did this bother me? A lot! My input was not being valued. I stopped participating in the class. I kept my thoughts to myself. Why? She was not going to hear them anyway so why get myself all worked up. Best way to handle it? Not sure but at the time it seemed so. The exchange created a lasting impression on me.
Now let’s look at another example. I am in the store and I ask a sales person a question. She or he is distracted and either ignores me or gives me some crazy answer. Am I frustrated? Sure. How much does it matter? Not nearly as much as the example above.
The teacher example made me think…”What’s wrong with me?” while the store example made me think….”What’s wrong with them?” The second example does not call my value into question. At least mot for me. But I have to wonder, if all those ‘little’ dismissals happen all the time, if they are more common than not, could I say the same thing? Would I be able to walk away from them so easily?
We all want to be heard. Really listened to. Yet I observe too many people being dismissed or dismissing others. What if we just stop long enough to really hear what others have to say? What harm could come of really taking the time to hear someone? Perhaps that extra few minutes could allow for better understanding of one another. Perhaps it could mean being able to understand what is really happening. What do you have to lose if you just stopped what you are doing, looked the person in the eye, and really heard them?
Until next time….
Change. Discover. Transform.
Carla Carter, Ed.D., LCPC, CMPC, EMDR Certified