Sunday, January 24, 2010

Just Listen

"I've never regretted not speaking." -- Abe Lincoln

I've gotten 'in trouble' or 'called out' a few times recently for not speaking up immediately after someone shut their mouth. This seems to happen more and more. You see, I used to be bad about interrupting people as they talked, and so years ago I made a conscious effort to be aware of this and to listen more and speak less. I make a conscious effort to quiet my 'monkey mind' and focus on the speaker and what they're saying to the point that more often than not, now, there is a brief silence before I rejoin and speak my mind.

Speaking mindfully and not saying the first thing that pops in my head, having it spill out my mouth, has saved me from foot-in-mouth-tis a few times, and I'd highly recommend it, except for the fact that lately, I have been accused of not listening Say what?! I explain that I am gathering my thoughts and want to reply to their comment, but some people just can't stand a lapse, I guess. Sometimes, I never get a chance to speak if I'm with several talkative people who, (I was going to say, 'suck all the oxygen out of the room' but I'll be nice and say 'speak freely and easily.') Sometimes I've been chastised, "Now it's your turn to speak."

Pregnant pauses are good things, unless someone never lets you get a word in edge-wise. Over times, I've had to remind Excy that other people may want to interject into the conversation and just may have something interesting to say, for example. Excy has good stories and is a wealth of information, but he tends to 'ramp up' and can monopolize the conversation. If I'm around and he is 'pontificating,' I'll say "Thank you, Professor." Code for STFU, will ya?!

Now, I'm still guilty of interrupting when the conversation gets lively, when others encourage the 'flow,' or if it's the only way to be heard, or if the same speaker and I are on the same wavelength. If I don't get to open my mouth, though, I figure I've learned something -- usually do - about the subject, the person speaking, whatever --and the loss of my comment isn't any earth-shattering deal.

But I really do like to listen - fully engaged listening -- and to do so requires setting your 'monkey mind' on slow -- not pause -- consider, and then respond.

Note: I am feeling pampered. Tonight Excy is going to make dinner -- his famous blueberry pancakes, with sides of applesauce and bacon, and I don't have to worry about what's for supper or cleaning the kitchen, and I can relax and watch "Emma" on Masterpiece on PBS. I am a Jane Austin junkie and my beloved knows it....

13 comments:

Eva Gallant said...

I have a bad habit of finishing hubby's sentences. He thinks much more slowly and delibertalely than I, so sometimes I just can't stand to wait for him to finish. I'm working on it, though!

Jayne Martin said...

I'm the opposite. I sometimes rudely cut people off because if something pops into my mind and doesn't make it out the mouth within a very short period of time I suffer what I call a "brain fart" and it vanishes never to be heard from again. Some may indelicately refer to that also as a "senior moment" but I like my description better.

Blueberry pancakes sounds soooo good.

wendy said...

"monkey mind" that is funny.
I have been with people that at times you can tell they have QUIT listening cause they can't wait to interject THEIR thought.
listening is a virtue

Dame Nuisance said...

My great sin is interrupting - not because I'm not listening or engaged, but because I'm so engaged and excited, my mind leaps ahead, anticipating the flow of the conversation and wanting to contribute ...

I have begun to force myself to keep it zipped - both professionally and personally - when others are speaking. It would seem the older I get, the less palatable foot-in-mouth disease is. Still, old habits are hard to overcome.

Mark Twain wrote: It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

Too true. Would that more of us could actually do tha!

Tricia McWhorter said...

It's always such a delicate balance, isn't it—when to just listen, when to jump in. Excy must feel better if he's up and fixing dinner for you. Good to hear. Enjoy "Emma"!

Kathryn said...

I've been guilty of this, & like yourself have tried to make a conscious effort to listen. Some days i'm better at it than others. Sometimes when i'm listening i think of something to say or add, but these days with Swiss cheese brain, by the time it is "my turn" i've forgotten. (I hate chronic fatigue for robbing me of my memory.)

But i also am sometimes in those conversations you mention, where there is never a "my turn." I rarely speak to Sis #2, but when i do, at times i find myself wondering, "Do you realize i've not spoken a word for 20 minutes?"

Ah well, i pray to love her better for i'm struggling with that, too.

Sometimes, when commenting at blogs i feel that i'm the one doing all the talking, tho. Sigh.

Communication, real communication, is a constant balance beam.

Chris said...

Nice to hear Excy is feeling well enough for a little pampering. We got our first batch of Ponchatoula strawberries at the farmers market on Saturday, so I made strawberry pancakes for breakfast yesterday.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Very nice your blog. If you like traveling I invite you to my traveling blog which is in English and in Greek. Kind regards. Philip

glnroz said...

It is just a "woman thing",(not letting us men talk) trust me,,lolol now, I am ready for your reply(ies)..lolo glenn

Emily said...

Interesting. I've often scolded myself for not listening well or not speaking mindfully, but I never imagined that if I *did* do those things people would think I wasn't listening at all! Now I'll tell myself to listen well, but respond fast!

Your evening sounds delightful!

strokeofliving said...

Good post Lovely Lady A. I have the opposite problem. At a gathering when folks try to engage me in conversation I clam up and then answer awkwardly especially when I'm intimidated. I trip over my words or stammer. I tend to worry about what others are thinking when I speak. That is very silly since what others think of me is none of my business.

Your silence seems like respect to me so if others are not respecting your monkey mind, they aren't paying attention.

My two cents in a nutshell.

KC said...

I do agree that you sometimes need to do a little vocal trampling in a busy crowd, but it is nice to be more thougthful about your speech one-on-one. I'm glad you wrote about this, because I need to work on being silent a little more.

Tam said...

I am a terrible interrupter. I could learn a lot from your pregnant pause practice. Now I'm going to try it!