Where I once wanted to know what someone else was thinking, now I am back to tell them what I want to say. OK, so this is not an every time thing, but as I re-read my post from September 18, 2019, I can see I am missing something. READ: Is This What Getting To Know You Feels Like
That day, when I shared time with two people, I connected in a very concrete way.
I was caught up in the moment, listening without judging, or being distracted by thinking about what I wanted to say. There I was, just listening. And the result was a deeper connection, a real sense of what the person was about. I heard them without pre-judging them.
Then I let them speak.
I did not get ahead of myself and map out the conversation. There was no finish line I felt I needed to cross. It was just a few moments, sharing thoughts with a stranger. And I was transformed as the conversation took place.
Now it did take a conscious effort on my part to listen in that fashion.
My day-to-day interactions with people involve a lot of planning and directing and holding people accountable. I believe that I do not lose track of the person behind the action, but I know that is not always true.
So today, I am renewing my focus on being in the moment.
Speaking with people, I have proven that I can hear them without feeling the urge to get my point across. And those times prove that the outcome is worth the effort. It has been nearly two years since I wrote about getting to know you. And I am still learning how to be comfortable doing that.
Spending one day, sharing conversations with two people does not constitute a new habit.
I am sure that in the days after those interactions, I had additional times where I just listened. But now my day-to-day workings with people I would not describe as interactive. Now, this may be a bit harsh. I do ask questions; I do know things about people. And I make sure to inquire about them. “How’s your new puppy?” “Is your grandchild walking yet?” “How was your vacation?”
All these questions focus on the person and their lives.
And I am interested in their answers. But I confess, most of that becomes fuel for the next interaction with them. And perhaps I am overthinking this. In effect, I am learning more about them so I can follow up with them later. My questions will be specific to them, to their lives, and their activities.
That’s not selfish.
But that’s not always the way conversations go. Often, I find myself focused on my response, not on the person who is talking. This short-changes the interaction and only marginally increases my understanding of them as a person. But I suspect that I am not the only one who does this.
I think we all feel that we know best and have the correct answers.
If only people would listen to me, I could straighten out this entire situation. Judging people by their actions, humans tend to judge others based on their own skillset, their own experiences. When people do not conform, then they are viewed cautiously, as potential outsiders and competitors. However, if you say and do what I think you should do, then you are ONE OF US!
Today, I am trying to understand how I interact with people.
I want to hear them, and understand them, not just tolerate their speaking. I know how to do this and have done it. My goal is to become much more consistent. Hearing people, unless there is a life-or-death emergency, should be a bigger part of my toolset.
When I jump ahead, unhelpful thinking is activated. And I become either a mind reader or a fortune teller.
I map out what you are going to say and then I am ready to respond when you stop to take a breath. So, I know the answers before you even ask the question. Your thoughts are just fuel for me. They are a chance to get my point across.
I cannot say that depression is the only reason I indulge in unhelpful thinking.
Not being a medical professional, I am just looking at myself as I find myself. I want to blame my inability to get close to others on my depression, but I do not think it is that simple. Surely, people without depression exhibit a similar pattern of interaction with people.
As I listen to what I am writing, I sound very formal.
Wanting to be PC, I am careful to couch my thoughts in words that do not offend. Not wanting to instigate, my thoughts are about de-escalating. This is often an effective strategy for me. By just getting an upset person to share their frustration, they will at some point run out of things to say. Once this happens, we can get to what’s really going on and work to solve it.
So now I am sounding like a hero.
This whole idea of getting to know you is much more complicated than I first thought. Perhaps I am not as callous as I think I am. Maybe I am hearing and responding thoughtfully. It turns out that unsolicited feedback from others would suggest that I am sought out because I get things done. Hearing a person’s needs and then taking the necessary action would suggest an understanding and a connection.
Today I will look for opportunities to listen.
Maybe I can hear myself hearing others. I’ll let you know how it goes.
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