Listening. It’s one of the most important, yet boring, things you can do to build good relationships. I’m pretty sure my wife told me a few weeks ago that I’m a horrible listener. So recently I practiced listening better, and I wanted to share a quick tutorial on how to listen, and the consequences of it.
First, a Facebook post from my wife as proof that I was dedicated to this research:
If you’re like me, then you have at least five things on your mind while you’re talking to someone. The things I think about while talking to my wife or colleague are:
With all those things in mind it’s difficult to concentrate on the blabber mouth in front of me. But it’s easier to capture what they’re unnecessarily talking about when I follow these tactics:
After a good week of being a good listener, having normal conversations, and offering relevant replies, here’s what I found:
People will try to directly or indirectly one-up your story. Meaning, regardless of the topic, your story will never be as interesting to the person you’re talking to as the story they’re about to tell you.
For example, if I tell a colleague about the time I scored seven goals in a regular-season soccer game back in elementary school, that colleague is going to flip it around on me and say, “That reminds me of the time I hit three home runs in Little League. It was the championship game, and…”
Hey assclown, I don’t care about your baseball game. We’re talking about me and MY SOCCER GAME!
Some people do this because they simply want to relate to you. Others do this as a power move, as if to say, “Meh, your story is nothing. Listen to this better one!”
Being a good listener and actually talking to people means that they literally won’t stop talking to you unless:
Because there aren’t a lot of good listeners out there, your colleagues will like you more than most people. People love talking about themselves, but talking to the mirror can get boring, so they like it better when a human is listening.
The more you listen and the more you’re liked, the more often people will come back for more conversations. This is dangerous! More conversations means more time taken away from what you really wanted to do: Be left alone and not talk to people.
Listening and pretending to be interested in an extended conversation is very difficult. For the first couple of minutes you may be legitimately interested in the other person’s nonsense because their topics are fresh. But then they keep going on and on about the same point, or maybe they add additional facts to prove a point that you never cared about in the first place. You keep smiling and nodding to assure them that you agree with them, and hopefully they understand that because you agree with them they should discontinue talking. After all, what’s the point of arguing with someone that agrees with you on the matter at hand?
But certain people just don’t get it. They will go on and on and on until you’re so bored that you literally want to sigh out loud and yell, “Please just shut up, sir! I get it! Trump is an a-hole!”
So if you have forgotten to set your automatic fake ring tone, then it’s nearly impossible to get out of a conversation without looking rude.
Overall, being a good listener will result in people liking you more and seeking you out socially; to the average person these are positives. The negatives are that you will have to deal with people’s egos, as their stories will always be more important than yours, and your time will be wasted with each additional conversation.
If your goal is to build relationships and a good network, then by all means become a good listener. Fortunately, my goal in life is to have fewer friends, fewer colleagues, and fewer conversations. The more time I waste talking to you, the less time I have for doing nothing, playing video games, and doing both of those things simultaneously.
So I’m sorry to say this to everyone, but I’m not going to listen to you anymore. It doesn’t benefit my utopia.