Do you really listen?
Today my question for you readers is do you listen? Do you really listen or do you just think you listen? I have run into several situations recently that have shown me that people don’t really listen to what others are saying if it is not what they want to hear.
My first encounter with this was at the supermarket. For a little background, this supermarket has a rewards program that lets you get to up 50 cents off of the price of gas depending on the amount you have purchased. An older gentleman was standing taking with the customer service clerk when I walked. He was telling the clerk that the amount on his card was incorrect. After each purchase, your balance is shown on the receipt. The clerk was very nice and told the gentleman that her computer system cannot show his past transactions and that she would give him a phone number to call the central office to get things cleared up. He completely ignored what she said to him and kept going on that his balance was wrong, the program sucked (much stronger words were used), and that he was going to throw the @#!@ card away. Again she repeated what she had said. He kept on with his tirade. This went on for more than five minutes while I was standing there watching the scene unfold. The clerk was wonderful and never got upset with him even though he was irate.
He obviously didn’t want to listen because it wasn’t the result he wanted. He wanted immediate satisfaction no matter what.
My most recent experience with someone not wanting to listen happened this morning at work while I was giving a training session. I was coming towards the end of the training when the boss finally walks in. He sits down and I start to review what we had gone over. All of a sudden, the boss goes off on a tangent that has nothing to do with m y topic. He starts to rant that I should not be doing any programming work to create a better system without being requested to do so. I explained to him that I was given a request and I had completed that task several weeks ago. But he would not listen and kept ranting on this other topic. Several people in the room spoke up about how this feature had gone through company procedure and a formal request was given to me and that I had completed the task. No matter what anyone said, he just kept on and on. It was finally mentioned that the initial request had come from him. That didn’t even stop the ranting. Again, all he was concerned with was what he wanted even if he had no clue as to what had transpired and been accomplished. All this did was to spread a feeling of ill will through all the employees that the meeting.
I try to listen to people when they talk to me. I really try my best to pay attention to what they say. In doing so, I really get to pick up on things and get to know the person more than they realize. Several people have asked me how I am able to come up with such great gifts for people during birthdays and holidays. It is because I listen. People will tell you things about themselves without ever realizing it. You blog hostess can confirm that as we have known each other for over fifteen years and she still seems to get a bit surprised at gifts I come up with for their family.
Many of my friends have gone through a divorce. In watching them interact with their spouses, it is obvious to me that one or both of them don’t listen to what the other is trying to say. They get so wrapped up in what they want, they completely block out the other person. Then they wonder what is going on when problems start.
So I put out another challenge. Think about whether or not you really listen. Start paying attention to what people are saying. Some of my most entertaining moments come from just listening to other people talking while out in public. You just might be surprised what you hear.
~The Quiet Computer Guy
May 21, 2014 @ 12:07 pm
I think I listen too much sometimes… I feel like I am a people pleaser and problem solver. I think I listen and ask questions pertaining to their topic so I can really understand and even if they are not asking me to solve the problem.. I feel like I need to. Like the man at the market.. I am reading your post thinking… Why did that checker not call C/S and have someone call for him… See… I’m a problem solver…
May 21, 2014 @ 9:39 pm
Aimee you brought up something that I did think about when writing the post. I too think I listen too much at times. When I was standing there listening to the conversation at the market, I was thinking along the same lines as you. The clerk could have made the call and let him talk to the main office right at that moment.
Thanks for the reply,
~The Quiet Computer Guy
May 21, 2014 @ 3:47 pm
You are so right! People don’t listen mainly because they are too busy talking. When my pastor husband and I counsel with people, a lot of the time they never shut up long enough for us to try and help them, so we just let them talk on and on and then at the end of the session they talk about how much we helped them. And we barely said a word.
I’m sure I’m been guilty of not listening myself, so thanks for the reminder to hush up and listen more. Great post!
May 21, 2014 @ 9:46 pm
Alli, thanks for the reply. I can relate a bit to what you are saying as I am a part-time faculty member at our local community college. I get students that act just like you have described. They will come to me for help and they end up talking the whole time. Usually, they will say the same thing you hear. Yet I barely said anything to help the with their issue.
The Quiet Computer Guy
May 21, 2014 @ 8:49 pm
I have to admit I am a really bad listener. This is something I really need to work on so that i dont miss out on importnant things
May 21, 2014 @ 9:42 pm
Alvina many years ago, too many that I care to mention, I was that way. I was always quiet and didn’t say much, but I really didn’t listen either. It was something that I had to force myself to change about myself. I am glad I did as I have really discovered a lot of beautiful things about people I would never have noticed before.
~The Quite Computer Guy
May 22, 2014 @ 3:09 pm
As someone with mainly manic-based bipolar, it is a learned thing today to listen and not have my head whirling with thoughts of how to answer before the person has even stopped talking! If I don’t allow them to finish before I come up with a response, well, I’m shutting them off in order to “help” them when all they may need is a shoulder to lean on.
While I hold dear and blessed the therapy I undertook to learn to be a better person in the world, I also know that I learned a GREAT deal about listening – really listening – as an undergraduate journalism student. Any journalist who’s good learns early, as The Quiet Guy suggests, that some of the greatest and best moments and sayings and information come when I keep my mouth shut and let the other person say what they need to say. While I am probably guilty of “listening too much” – I also feel that God has given each of us the gift of discernment and if used wisely, can save ones behind if one truly listens to a person’s message instead of analyzing how to correctly respond…well, we each have the ability to reign in our thoughts IF we so desire.
I live in Arizona near the Navajo reservation for many years. I learned a great deal from the Navajos about communication. The Navajo believe it is quite discourteous to interrupt a person speaking and they will reserve comment for some time after a person speaks just to make sure the person has said all they need to say. Navajos feel no rush to respond; they are thoughtful and caring in their responses having waited a moment to digest the information and to respond appropriately. I wish we all could have been taught from birth that this form of peaceful, quiet, thoughtful listening served mankind very well in dealing with their fellow men.
I had to chuckle at the grocery store incident as I recently went through an exactly similar situation with my “fuel points” rewards. I’d have some one day and while neither my husband or I put gas in our vehicles, the points would bounce around and come time for us to use them, the points had again magically disappeared. I asked the gas attendant what was going on and she gave me a phone number to call. I said “thank you” and left. The first call didn’t go so well because I, me, wasn’t getting the answer I wanted – which was basically why is someone else able to have my phone number on their account and yet I’ve been paying the bill for that number for seven years? The answer was not appreciated, “Our system has no means of taking a phone number off a card unless the customer with the number contacts them to change it.” Nope, didn’t handle that phone call well at all. I did call back after my husband had picked up a new card to be completed and spoke with a very kind lady who got that I wasn’t happy with their “system” but knew that she and I had to work around it to accommodate my needs. As the gas attendant had said, this customer service clerk helped me find solutions that the first gentlemen denied were even possible. SHE listened to ME, the first clerk had not and just said NO to everything. With the assistance of someone who actually listened and agreed that this was a big problem for them, I got my issue solved; with extra bonus fuel points to “make up” for the ones we’d lost over the years. I did listen to the gas attendant first; didn’t get upset, just followed her suggestions and in the end it all worked out. Sometimes that “listening” thing needs to go both ways as when you DON’T feel heard, I admit it’s an annoying moment for me!!
Thank you for sharing!
May 24, 2014 @ 9:08 pm
Tamela, thanks for the reply. It sounds link I could learn quite a bit from the Navajo’s about listening. Sometimes I tend to blurt things out when I just need to sit back, keep my mouth shut and wait to comment.
~The Quiet Computer Guy