Not a Good Listener? Who Cares?

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I am known as a "good listener".

I am not.

What I am is quiet. For most people, that seems to be enough. In this world, people are looking--mostly in vain--to find someone who will allow them to complete their own thoughts. Barring that, at least a single sentence. I do that: I sit silently while they speak and don't interrupt until they're done, so people assume that I'm listening.

Or, they just like the appearance that I'm listening. Because everywhere else they go in life, someone finishes their sentences for them.

Why do people do this? Is it because the other person is talking too slowly? Maybe, but probably not. The real reason we interrupt each other is not to help them along but because we think whatever we have to say--even about their own personal thought--is more important than what they were going to say.

Whether it were accurate or not, I remember reading a book years ago about how the Indians--when they gathered in a teepee or wigwam or whatever--considered it very bad form to interrupt another speaker. So one man, usually one of the older ones, would speak and everyone else in the teepee would be silent until he stopped speaking. When he finished, someone else would speak. And, supposedly, they would speak in such a way as to show they respected the previous speaker by accurately quoting him and/or responding to what he said. This could go on for some time because everyone got their turn to speak and everyone was respectful--even of opinions they disagreed with.

I'm pretty sure such a process would kill most everyone I know. We interrupt, we talk over, we make arguments that have no bearing on the conversation, we plan our next statement without hearing out the current speaker, and we leave knowing far less about the topic at hand than we could have if we had swallowed our pride and ... listened.

I get the feeling that these people who compliment me on being a good listener don't, in the main, care whether I actually listened to them or not. They just wanted to speak and were glad someone let them.

So go ahead and speak.

I'm listening.

Or quiet.

And do you really care which?