You know when someone is not listening to you. You know it when they seem to jump in ready to use what you’ve just said, against you. You know it when they ask you to repeat. You know it when at your first pause, they redirect the conversation to be about them. You know it when they cut you off.
Most people seem to prefer listening to themselves rather than someone else. They are their own most interesting subject. I became very good at listening. Listening to sad stories like the temp worker who was being physically abused by her boyfriend. She had moved with him away from her family and believed she needed him to function. I listened to the empowering story of the mother of twin toddlers and a child a year older, who was struck with breast cancer. She had the surgery and chemo while caring for her boys and maintaining her job and a smile.
So perhaps because I’ve become a good listener or because I don’t speak much until I really have something to say, I am acutely aware when someone is not listening to me. Generally I’ll just stop talking.
But last Friday I met a good listener. It was the Physician’s Assistant at my doctor’s office. She had never met me. She said she would get things started, since the doctor was running behind. She wanted to know how I was responding to the recent increase in the dosage of one of my meds. Of course, I knew they’d be asking that about that, so I had prepared my response. As I talked, she typed, fast. She was looking at me the whole time. She asked a few questions to help me clarify what I meant. When we were interrupted, she remembered the last thing I had said and brought me back to it. I felt she wanted to hear me and she wanted to help me understand things I wouldn’t know to ask.
At the end of appointment I was informed and felt validated. I thanked her.
Really hearing someone is a gift to them. It’s free, but priceless.