I admit I haven’t always been the best listener. God knows I try, but sometimes my dysfunctional brain shuts down after more than 15 minutes of someone telling me about everything happening in their lives.
I look like I’m listening, but I’m only quiet and staring at you because I’m numb.
I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into changing that. I took a class about ways to stay in the present moment. I’ve kept on top of my anti-depressant medication, getting adjustments as needed. That helps keep my OCD under control, which in turn makes me a better listener. Some days are better than others.
But there are still certain people out there that I’ll always have trouble listening to. That’s because they’ll talk about themselves for hours and show little interest in letting the other people around them talk. You know the type: a friend that bends your ear on the phone, going on about all their problems while you’re forced to sit there in silent torment. The person at a party who corners you and waxes poetic about all the important work they’re doing and how awesome they are. Or how awful everyone and everything is until you want to leave the party so badly that you’re willing to fake cardiac arrest.
Those people are so oblivious to the fact that they do this that they may read this post and not realize that it’s about them.
I admit straightaway that it’s hypocritical of me to point a finger, because I have a history of being a better talker than listener. I could tell you I’m not talking about myself and am instead gifting my victims with juicy historical facts and stories so funny they drop their glass from laughing so hard.
But that would be bullshit.
I’m like anyone else who talks more than he listens. I’ll tell you about what’s going on in my life and leave you little room to do the same.
Knowing that I can be that way has actually made me more tolerant of other over-talkers. I also try to remember what my therapist says every time this comes up: “There’s no greater gift you can give another person than your time and attention.”
I could end this by suggesting other over-talkers try doing the same. I could suggest they take a mindfulness class or go in a church and sit quietly for 30 minutes. But it’s not my place to do that.
All I can do is work on myself and be the better listener.
And if there are people that are too obnoxious to listen to, I can simply avoid them.