I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen. ~ Ernest Hemingway
A while back I was at a gathering with a multitude of friends but I wasn’t feeling all that sociable so I decided to just sit back and watch the conversing and the interactions of those around me. And what I observed was rather interesting. There were so many people who fought to make themselves the center of attention. Laughing loud, trying to “one up” people with stories that are more “over the top”, more controversial, funnier than others. And I wondered
“Do I do ever do that?’
And I think sometimes I do.
You know what I mean, when someone is relating a story or sharing an anecdote and you find yourself not really paying attention or listening closely because what they are saying has reminded you of a story and now you’re formulating it in your own head perhaps adding embellishments and colourful adjectives hoping it becomes, bigger and funnier and more grandiose than the one being told at the moment.
We’ve all done it.
And sadly we’re totally missing out on what is being shared, not appreciating the person or the narrative of the moment. How selfish is that? What is it about human nature that causes us to do this? To strut with our peacock feathers and be viewed as the most entertaining or the most engaging because, heaven forbid, we go unnoticed.
Now there’s nothing wrong with telling a good story. There’s nothing wrong with being engaging and entertaining and the life of the party but not at the expense of squelching the contributions, or the attempt at sharing by those who have something to offer but aren’t quite so aggressive. When you dismiss the anecdotes of those you perceive aren’t as interesting as your own then you miss out on getting to know some pretty interesting people in their own right.
What if we resolved to listen. To listen carefully. Listen to really hear what is being told instead of trying to figure out how to make someone else’s story all about “me”.