I’m a talker. I like talking. I like telling stories, making people laugh. I have lots of ideas and I like to share them. But lately, I’m trying to do more listening, to really hear what people are saying and what might be behind those words. The talking I want to do is to ask questions, to seek understanding. This is a hard thing to do for someone who likes to talk, okay, for me. Often, when someone says something, it reminds me of something similar that happened to me or an idea and so I start talking, explaining the idea and at that point I’ve quit listening. The thing is, it’s not that I’m trying to rude. If I start riffing off of something you said, it’s because I’ve been inspired by it; it’s made me think. But I think it’s important to really hear what someone says and to allow them the opportunity to speak further before I start riffing.
The other side of this, too, for me, is to respond appropriately, to think about what someone is really saying and to say the most appropriate thing in response. Sometimes this is in a request someone has made and I have to think about whether I should take on that request and how I should take that on and when I should indicate that I can complete the request. Sometimes this is to make sure I’m heard–ironically–by responding in ways that will be heard rather than in the usual riffing I do. And sometimes, unfortunately, it’s responding in ways that defend myself, that make clear that I deserve respect and consideration without responding in kind.
I’ve had an interesting few days as I’ve tried to do this, but I still have a long way to go.