Sunday, January 09, 2005

Time Is Always A Problem

When we're doing things we enjoy time seems to fly by and when we're doing things we don't enjoy time often seems to drag. If you're going to become really good at listening you probably are going to have to change the way you feel about concentrating on what other people are trying to say to you.

It takes time, energy, ability to concentrate and a willingness to set aside your own concerns and problems to consider what someone is trying to say to you. It will also have some unique frustrations. Since very few of us spend a lot of time with people who really listen to what we're saying it often comes as a surprise that someone is actually listening to what you have to say. As a consequence, many of us haven't really thought about what we want others to hear, know and understand. So when someone really listens we find ourselves saying things like, "Well, what I think I mean is. . ." That's bad training for everybody. The listener knows that they have wasted their time and you feel foolish, because you don't even appear to know what you're thinking.

Its a two way street and both of you need to work on listening. When you're listening you're not trying to formulate what you're going to say to the person who is talking. Instead, you're seeking to understand what they are saying, why they are saying it and what they hope to accomplish by saying it. Once you have that under control you are in a better position to think about what they have said. Now your task is to think about what you're going to say, if anything. Sometimes listening is all that is necessary. But, if more is needed, now you have a solid idea of what is necessary. Take your time and respond in a thoughtful and appropriate manner.

That's the stuff friendships are built on, but it doesn't come naturally. It comes with thought, fitness, willingness and practice. Give it a try.

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