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Listen, Do You Want Me to Share My Ice Cream?

by Cathy Coombs 4 months ago in advice
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Some people have a hard time actually listening

Listen, Do You Want Me to Share My Ice Cream?
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

In the image above, is she listening intently? Maybe she's thinking, "I can't wait until you stop talking!" I believe we know that feeling.

And life experience will teach us which people to stop saying "how are you?" because they will tell us how they are doing for what will seem like a lifetime. Oh, you know that person too?

As listeners, sometimes we don't always tell people what we're thinking. We want to be kind. We don't want to be rude. We think about what the right thing to say or not say would be. We listen politely.

We might nod our heads up and down to give that subtle indication we're listening intently when that's not the case at all. We're just trying to move the one-sided conversation ahead before the lunch break is over.

The talker who just talks to talk

Let's be honest. If someone is talking just to talk without any interesting substance, do you have difficulty listening?

Here's a new word to add to your vocabulary: loquacious.

A person referred to as being loquacious is someone who talks a lot. What this person talks about may have nothing to do with you in any respect. These types of talkers only talk about what they're interested in.

That said, I tend to talk a lot about a variety of subjects but prefer the term talkative. I like to ask questions about subjects associated with the person I'm talking with. Admittedly, when I'm being too chatty, I have so many subjects I want to talk about, it pours out like a smoothie. And all the subjects aren't centered on me.

The people we listen to

Let's take a neighbor across the street,  is she really that friendly or is it a show to tell you all about the neighborhood gossip so, you know, you'll be in the know. Maybe she's just learning about you to provide hear and tell information with other neighbors perhaps.

I do not really care. I talk to everyone generally, even strangers, out of kindness and for the sake of being friendly, the latter of which I see as the right way to be.

I have an awareness to know what to say or not say in most conversations, especially the ones when you should proceed with caution. Some people take things so personally and if you know that person well, you're careful how you phrase responses.

We listen to family members. Now, whether that's wholeheartedly, or not, depends on the circumstances.

We listen to our children because that is always the right thing to do.

When parents talk to children, sometimes they want to know they listened by having them repeat back what was said. Even as an adult good listener, you should be able to repeat what you heard to the speaker.

We used to not want to listen to our parents until we got older because they were getting older. As my parents got older, I wish I would have listened to them more much sooner. I wish I would have asked them more questions about what life was like when they were growing up.

Jake from State Farm

Do you ever think about famous people you would like to meet just to have a conversation? Every time I see the Jake from State Farm commercials, I wonder if he's a good listener as he's perceived to be. He seems like the kind of person who would listen to any problem.

I'm just throwing this out there to see if you're listening. When you read, it's also a form of listening. That is to say when you stop reading, you're done listening.

What makes a good listener

Life experience continues to expand and you soon discover that listening isn't a strong attribute for many people.

One habit I had to break was to stop interrupting the person talking to me. In my defense, I add that I sometimes suddenly have some thoughts during a conversation and I blurt them out before it's my turn to speak. Now I silently tell myself not to interrupt or apologize if I do. I'm a heavy-duty thinker so thoughts spew out like popcorn escaping from the pan.

When you're listening, contribute to the conversation without interrupting. Don't step on words being spoken. You and the person across from you take turns listening. Make it meaningful, though, don't just talk to talk.

I believe that sometimes when a person nods when you're speaking, it doesn't necessarily mean listening is happening. It could be a courtesy nod as though you're getting attention when you really aren't. They're just waiting for you to stop talking. That's my take on that courtesy nod.

And please don't say, hmmm, that's interesting, especially when it wasn't. It's okay to say to me, uh, nice story, because that's a sign that I'm being chatty. (Yes, I was nicknamed Chatty Cathy when I was an adolescent.)

If the person you're talking to asks questions, you know that person is probably listening.

If someone needs to talk to you about something important, turn your cell phone off or put it away. It's a distraction. Share ice cream while you talk.

When you're listening, don't argue

I find if you don't agree with what you're hearing, decide if it's productive to start a debate. There are no winners with an argument.

It is possible to have differing views in an engaged civil conversation, however.

When you're listening to someone, do you correct them?

Let's say you're listening to someone answer someone else's question and you don't agree with the answer. Do you interrupt the whole conversation and give the correct answer or do you just let it be? How would you tactfully decide if you should get involved? I don't feel comfortable hearing a person correct people all the time.

Listening is part of an engaged conversation

Being engaged in conversation is enjoyable. You talk, you listen, and you share ideas.

Importantly, you also learn knowledge, gain a bit of wisdom, strengthen awareness, and seize redundant lessons.


About the author

Cathy Coombs

Earning a B.A. in English Journalism & Creative Writing confirmed my love of literature. I believe every living experience is tied to language. I can't imagine a day without reading or writing. Website:

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