It recently occurred to me that I am a terrible listener.
Over the last few weeks, I have realized how eager I am to express my opinions, even if it means cutting off the other person speaking. I can be quite impatient and quick to think that only my opinion is the right one or is valid. It struck me that I never actually gave the other person a chance to complete their thoughts.
So, during one conversation with my friends in particular, I promised myself that I would only speak until after they were done talking. I recognized that the way that people express themselves can be so different. Some people will cut to the chase and be very forward and direct with how they feel. Others may take a lot longer to share how they are feeling. I personally know that when I am voicing my feelings, I like to start from the beginning and explain my entire thought process. Many times, I start out with a different tone than I end with. So, isn't it foolish to think others may not approach conversations the same way I do?
During this conversation with my friends, I was trying hard to listen closely to what they were saying. Rather than butting in with the first thought that occurred to my mind, I waited, only to realize that she had the same thought and had already processed through that. Listening to her side without interruption gave me a new perspective on the situation. I would have never heard how her opinion changed if I had cut her off halfway through her explanation. I also realized that she felt more comfortable being able to speak freely. It not only gave me a clear picture of how she felt, but it also was comforting for my friend to know that I was going to listen to her and be on her side.
I want to be a better listener, and I've decided to make a conscious effort to not be so quick to judge or to speak. With this, I've also decided to be more mindful of the way I respond, since sometimes I don't fully think before I speak. Because more often than not, only hearing half of the story doesn't tell you everything you need to know. Only knowing half of the story doesn't bring about the best solutions. Hearing somebody out and keeping an open mind is better than rushing into other ideas and missing the point of the story. Also, thinking about the best way to respond is also a skill I'd like to build further.