Are You Listening?

I was at a friend’s birthday drinks the other day and was bored stiff by the ‘conversations’ I had with some people there.

One guy talked ‘at’ me about his job in IT for a full 10 mins. I heard about where he worked, how much his contracts were worth and not much else as I switched off. Granted, I’m normally pretty good at asking questions and steering conversations to a more interesting level but I was tired and ended up ‘going to get a drink’ and instead wandered off down the road for 10 minutes to look at the sunset.

On my return, I luckily sat next to one of my friends (The IT guy looked at me in surprise but hopefully guessed that he had bored me to tears) but then I was introduced to another person. My friend introduced her with, ‘Emily (not real name) knows, *insert name of very famous actor*
Me: ‘Ah really!
Emily: ‘Yes my son goes to the same nursery as his daughter…’
Me: ‘Ahh, wow..’ (really, who cares!) she then proceeded to tell me about other famous parents whose children go to same posh nursery – again my eyes glazed over and I turned to talk to my friend.

Ok, I know it’s natural to talk about yourself but you’re not going to make any friends by doing it without asking some questions in return. I’m often called out for being too the other way, ‘Why so many questions?’ someone once asked me! I guess it’s about balance and realising that a conversation is about two people. Listening is a skill that has different ‘levels’ and most of us listen and wait to jump in with our own thoughts/opinions and experience ‘Oh yes I went there, or that happened to me…’

How well do you listen? Are we getting worse at it due to constant checking of our social media (guilty!) I looked up ‘Active Listening’ and here are some tips:

1) Pay Attention. Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message.
2) Show That You’re Listening. Use your own body language and gestures to show that you are engaged.
3) Provide Feedback.
4) Defer Judgment.

Simple? Good luck! And make sure you listen if you meet me at a party as I may just walk off!

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