Do you have a pet peeve? Mine is not being heard. Like Charlie Brown’s teacher, my words become garbled between my mouth and the receiver’s ears. For example, I carefully explain my computer question to a tech. He nods his head and then begins to share stories that are completely unrelated to what I need. Okay, I don’t speak computerese. Maybe this is my fault. I try again, with the same results. Now I look for a hidden camera. Candid Camera is surely involved.
This also happens with things and people I know. Years ago my husband asked what I wanted for my birthday dessert. I replied, mint chocolate chip ice cream or ice cream sundaes. Just, please, no bakery cake. (I’m not a big cake lover, but my sweet tooth and conscience would compel me to eat it all anyway. Waste not…) He must have fallen comatose after posing the question and was jolted awake by the words “bakery cake,” because I received a large expensive one.
A hairdresser had the gall to say, “I know you said you wanted only a trim, but I knew you’d love this short bob.”
I wonder if I should try saying the opposite of what I mean. “How do you think I’d look with my head shaved?” I might discover if they are listening.
The harsh reality is I don’t always listen well. I recently found myself at the grocery store trying to remember what Larry had asked me to pick up. People ask me to pray for them, and I listen. But too often it floats out the other ear. (I’ve considered plugging one ear, but I don’t think it will help.)
James 2:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak …” The problem isn’t that words flow out our ears; it is that we get distracted.
Truthfully, Larry is a wonderful listener. He is a good example of Philippians 2:4—not looking to his own interests but to the interests of others. He will stop what he’s doing and look at me. Being a good listener begins with being a caring person.
Focused attention says you matter. That means shut the book, turn off the television, close the computer, or put down the phone. I’m a kinesthetic learner, and we often listen better when our bodies are moving. Folding clothes, walking, or being involved in non-distracting activities may help us listen better. But we still must mentally focus to hear.
A friend said she is learning to be mindful—fully engage—in whatever she is doing. This not only relieves stress, it helps listening. A good listener engages with the person who is speaking. She wants to understand, not just wait for an opportunity to respond.
What can you learn from your pet peeve? I’m learning I need to give people my full attention. I’m not there yet, but hopefully as I do unto others as I want them to do unto me, I’ll grow into a more caring person.