Saturday, January 8, 2011

Talking to be Heard

I think one of the reasons I like to write is that no one can interrupt me.  If I'm talking to someone in person, they have every opportunity to cut me off and start a new topic of conversation.  That is irritating.  Unfortunately, I'm guilty of it.  I really want to be a better communicator, and I believe that starts with being a better listener.  When I'm involved in a conversation with someone, I want to be fully present so that they know I'm interested in who they are and what they have to say.  I should probably add that to my list of goals for the new year, so that I'm reminded to consciously work at it.

I'm not as bad as I used to be.  There was a time in my life when I was pretty self-conscious (and overweight) and I think I tried to compensate for that by talking a lot.  I was talking to be heard.  I thought I was being funny and interesting, but now when I look back on it I realize I was most likely just being obnoxious.  I wanted people to know me, to think I was hilarious, and to leave wanting more.  (Even now as I type this I cringe...how pathetic it sounds!)  I am being honest though.  I think I occasionally slip back into that place sometimes, when I am a little too focused on myself and think that those around me must love hearing what I have to say.  Clearly, I am entertaining, right?  Why would I let someone else talk right now when I have more interesting things to say?

I think I've become more aware of this as I notice it in other people.  I've definitely been around people who just love to hear themselves speak.  They don't talk to engage, to interact with others, or to get to know others better.  They talk to be heard.  They make their opinions very clear and seem to really enjoy the spotlight.  (I recognize it because I've been there.)  I think seeing it in others has opened my eyes to how I might sometimes come across.  They appear egotistical, which makes me think they must be self-conscious (again, I know this because I've been there).  It's not pretty.

Have you ever been around a person who makes you feel incredibly important?  They interactively listen, look directly at you, and ask questions that encourage you to continue speaking.  I love people like that.  A woman I used to work with was so good at it.  She was even good at it with people who I thought were boring or annoying.  (I realize I'm not coming across very well in this blog...oh well.)  The truth is, she might have also thought they were boring, but making the person talking feel special was more important to her than interesting conversation.  I always felt better about myself after talking with her, because she wasn't looking around the room for someone better to talk to, or interrupting me with her own stories.  I really want to be that way.  I want others to leave a conversation with me feeling like I truly value them and want to know them.

So, in order to be better at listening, I will practice closing my mouth.  As my dad likes to say, "You have two ears and one mouth.  Use them proportionately!"  Anyone who catches me being too self-involved, feel free to tell me to shut up.  I'll reserve my ridiculous rambling for my blogs, where people can choose to read them or not. :)

5 comments:

  1. I wish I could be more like your friend from work. I never know what to say to people during conversations so I feel like I tend to not say enough. They probably think I'm bored with what they're saying. Maybe I should work on that! But I don't really know how.

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  2. good points! I am a 'ranter' at times, and I really hate that I do it. I mean, sometimes you need to just vent or sometimes an issue is important enough to merit a longer monologue on it, but I think most of the time, people just think I'm insane, or they just lose interest. I like your dad's advice too. Thanks for making me stop to think, Kim.

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  3. I love your insights! You're fantastic. :) I just read the Bible yesterday (for the first time in a while, I'm sad to admit), and I just read in James about being quick to listen and slow to speak. :)

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  4. Kim, I am you! This is so weird. I was totally that person and have been working on the exact same thing. I really need work though. I am pretty bad at asking questions sometimes, particularly when I don't know the person at all. I feel like my questions and interest might come off creepy or they are looking around the room trying to find someone else to talk to. It is probably just more insecurity on my part. If I work on focusing on their needs and not even my need to be a good listener/ conversationalist it would help. Thanks for being honest! Sometimes I miss the person I used to be because she got so much praise like: "you're the life of the party" or "it's so much fun when you're around" or "you're so funny" but it was really egotistical and sad being that person and I definitely do NOT want to be her again!

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  5. Yeah, I do that also way TOO much! Good to be reminded!

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