Bad listener: A Google inside us

This was part of a disastrous conversation between two of my friends during a hiking trip.

A: (talking.. talking.. talking).. bla bla bla
B: (listening) bored…
… silence for a while..  finally!!
A: What do you think of making a plan of hiking at Glenwood (1 hr driving from our place)?
B: It will be fun.  My friend was suggesting to go for hiking in Fort Collins (similar distance from our place).  Do you like to join?
A: No man.  It is too far.
B: Okay, that’s fine.  We are going anyway.  You can join us some other time.
A: No no..  I can go with you guys.
B: (confused) Oh, but you just said “NO” to me.
A: No. I did not.
B: Yes, you did.
A: Then, I mustn’t have been listening to you! (excuse that is so honest)
B: What have you been doing then so far?
A: (getting impatient) I don’t listen to anyone while hiking because I think about stuff. That’s why I don’t like to go hiking with anyone (..after talking for hours and urging us to go for a hike with him).
B: (bothered) well, in that case, you should shut up while hiking.
A: (angry) I hate talking to you.
B: (—-) What?
…. Silence prevailed again …

This was how a promising hiking on a perfect Saturday morning came to an end. An awkward moment presented itself from nowhere because one of my friends found it unbearable to listen to another after talking for hours.

More often than not, we think we are listening.  But in reality, we might be extrapolating their view based on our experience/knowledge about the topic.  Extrapolation or prediction does not work without listening to the other person completely.  Otherwise disastrous outcomes like the google search of “why” can occur.

Google search almost always predicts entirely irrelevant results due to the extrapolation of incomplete words in search bar. Sometimes, the result of our extrapolated imagination after half-hearted listening would lead to similar result.

Everyone loves to talk about themselves and their interests, but few can listen when someone else is talking.  There are several reasons why most of us are terrible listeners.  Most notable symptoms are:

  1. Lack of interest in knowing about the other’s view
  2. Lack of patience in giving our attention to someone completely
  3. Lack of respect for the other’s opinion
  4. Making assumption about others
  5. Start thinking before the other person finishes their talk (missing the rest of the talk)
  6. Attitude of Mr/s Right or know it all (thinking about what advice to give before understanding the nature of talk)
  7. Interrupt them because we are so desperate to have our voice/advice heard
  8. Getting angry with the speaker for not accepting our offer/advice (without knowing they are not asking for it at the first place

So on….

Worst of all is that we all feel when someone is being a bad listener, but we never bother to introspect to see if we are one of them. Why do we need to talk so much about ourselves when we already know everything about us?  Why to lose peace of mind by inundating someone with our unsolicited advice? Why cannot we learn from other’s story that is offered for FREE?

So let’s prevent the GOOGLE inside us from popping up every time someone has something to say.  Everybody is unique and has their unique story that may teach us something new.

A good listening habit may be all that is needed to be successful in almost every aspect of life. One will always come out with a valuable lesson after listening to a conversation.  On the other hand, one will go with nothing more than what s/he already has by doing all the talking.  The more one listens, the more learned s/he will be. That’s why all leaders are good listeners.

I was a a very bad listener to begin with.  Things are changing after I have started paying attention to how I listen.  How about you?  Please share your experience here.

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3 responses to “Bad listener: A Google inside us

  1. Some collection of quotes about listening:
    “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” — Ralph Nichols
    “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” — M. Scott Peck
    “Man’s inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively.” — Carl Rogers
    “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” — Winston Churchill
    “Big egos have little ears.” — Robert Schuller
    “Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.” — Robert Greenleaf
    “A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something.” — Wilson Mizner
    “Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.” — Dr Joyce Brothers
    “Wisdom is the reward for a lifetime of listening … when you’d have preferred to talk.” — D.J. Kaufman
    “The best time to hold your tongue is the time you feel you must say something or bust.” — Josh Billings
    “There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves.” — Albert Guinon
    “I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention.” — Diane Sawyer
    “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” — Stephen R. Covey
    “You learn when you listen. You earn when you listen—not just money, but respect.” — Harvey Mackay

  2. Sanjay,

    Why is there a dead pakistani on your couch? :p

    -A

    • That’s the point :). How irrelevant instant search can be based on keyword “why”. Though it might be a politically incorrect picture and people will drag me for that.
      Unfortunately, that’s how a bad listener talk in response to any topic. Who knows better than you ( as you are the friend B in this conversation 😛 )

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