Listen to me. I have something to say.
I said that before. Weren’t you listening?
My patience goes out the window when people don’t listen. I hate to repeat myself, so if you weren’t paying attention the first time around, I will offer you a special attitude with the second time.
I admit that listening is a very difficult skill to master. One that is becomes better with practice.
Then again, so is talking. Conversation. You must practice to become good at it.
It’s sort of a bummer that these two very difficult things are what good, healthy relationships are based upon. We can assume to know what each other is thinking without listening to their words, but I can almost guarantee that hearing another person’s words is much better than figuring them out on our own.
Two people can’t have a relationship if only one is talking. And two people can’t have a relationship if only one is listening. If you’re silent, I can’t listen to you, and if you’re always talking, you can’t listen to me.
|photo via death to stock|
When my husband and I first got together we burned up the phone lines with our long-distance conversations. We exchanged words until there were no words left. Many of our talks ended with one of us falling asleep.
As the years went on and we spent more time together, the words between us were fewer. Weariness and tedium took over and we didn’t feel the need to spend the energy saying anything. Our connection stalled right where it was, and only grew deeper when we resumed communicating. The years of stalled communication were hard.
I’ve had friendships that ended because one or both of us stopped picking up the phone. In the end, both stopped listening; both stopped talking. Sometimes I’d hear through the grapevine that the other person was angry with me. I’d rack my brain for a memory of something I said or did wrong. Sometimes I’d pick up the phone and try to make contact, to repair a rift that I wasn’t aware of.
I’m a naturally quiet person. I like to talk only if I’m in the mood. The mood doesn’t always strike. It’s an effort for me to be friends with similar “listening” people, especially if that person entertains a hint of insecurity with the relationship. Silence begets uncertainty, which leads to insecurity, defensiveness, anger, and relationship breakdown. Walls go up. People drift apart, never to speak again.
When a relationship contains a natural talker and a natural listener, each must make an effort. One can’t always talk and one can’t always listen. It has to go both ways. Both parties need to contribute to building a relationship.
I’m no innocent. Many of my friendships ended because I allowed them to end. I didn't make the effort to continue talking. When someone stops talking, the other has nothing to hear. I have shouldered the blame for a friendship that has died because of my tendencies, which aren’t the friendliest. I’ve dropped a relationship if I felt I wasn’t being heard, if the other person got so used to my quiet that my words no longer mattered to them and they talked over anything I said and didn’t listen when I finally spoke.
People stay in relationships for a lot of reasons, but communication is usually the key that locks two people together for the long run. I’ve seen and experienced lopsided communication kill love and respect more times than I’d like. In the end, when two-way communication stops, relationships break down. When one person stops talking, the relationship ends. Two people cannot have a relationship if only one is talking. Likewise, a relationship cannot exist if only one person is listening. Both must pick up the phone.
And share the conversation.
Prompt #1:. Write a blog post inspired by the word: listen