The art of being a good listener

Being a listener is an art that needs to be learned. Or is it an option?

The title is a bit misleading. Those of you who know me best would doubt that sentence, for I am a lousy listener. All I do is cutting people’s speech and offering lots of words of affirmations or advices to them. All is done while they just want someone to talk to.

I like to talk; I like to give my opinions on stuffs. I don’t know if I do it unconsciously to make me look smarter, but it actually makes me look dumber. Silence is gold. Even the Bible says that those who can keep their mouths shut look like wise people. I am not one of them.

On my 17th birthday, my best friend who has known me for 14 years told me that I am not a very good listener. But some friends do talk to me about their private problems. So what kind of friend am I if I can’t offer any solution towards their problems? I would think I have failed them.

But most often I cut their speech and start telling my own personal anecdotes. Not that they want to hear anything more about me…

The other day a friend was chatting with me through WhatsApp to talk about her relationship. After a long one hour talk, I felt happy because I knew that I had been given the privilege to be trusted enough by her to talk about her problems.

But after a couple of hours, I started to reflect back.

Why did I cut her story? Why suddenly I jumped from her story to mine? She was the one having problems, why did I feel the need to talk about me? That was unfair. If I were her, I would like someone to listen, not someone to mention the things she has done to make it right!

Luckily, she didn’t scream at me, or even told me her hatred; she just thanked me for my advice and moved on, probably to find someone who can keep her mouth shut while she is telling her stories, someone who is definitely not me.

I’m a lousy listener, and to top it off, I’m a lousy friend.

I’m the type of girl who is really lazy to go socialise constantly. I like one on one interaction, I love catching up with old friends, but I don’t really crave to be social. Going out with a lot of friends in groups? Nah, it’s not my thing. I prefer spending my day reading a book in a cafe or ironing while watching the latest news.

Maybe that’s why when I am meeting someone, I tend to talk. Like, just talk. Maybe it’s done to fulfill my female’s word quota for the day.

But after being exposed to befriend my sister’s friends (the ones who are 28-year-old and above), I learn to become a listener.

And it’s fun.

In fact, I am forced to learn to become a listener. Why? Because, they are 28-year-olds, and above. While they are talking about their proposal stories and wedding preparations, I am still at the stage of listening to my peers who have found a keeper or a douche. While they are talking about professional work, I am still at the stage of not-yet-finishing-my-undergrad studies.

But it’s really fun to hear their experiences and learn more about ‘real life’ before you are reaching that age. It’s like being given a sneak preview.

I never know listening is a fun activity to do. You get to laugh, you get to know more stuffs, you get to enhance your knowledge, and basically, you are not spending that much energy to keep thinking on what to say.

I’m still not that good at being a listener, but I have improved my skills. I am still struggling to not dominate a chat, or to see the need to keep coming up with new topics to talk about, but I’m trying.

Everyone can talk, but I think only a few can master the art of being a good listener.

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3 thoughts on “The art of being a good listener

  1. I love this and it made me laugh a lot. I have to say that the fact that you are aware of cutting in and switching to yourself means that you are on the route to being a good listener. This comes with age – as we become more mature, we don’t need to impress with our own stories and we are not afraid of appearing stupid because we don’t automatically have a solution. I think you are going to be a wonderful listener because you care about people – that is what counts.

  2. Thanks loonyliterature! I am very happy that you laugh along with this post. Yes, I really think age is a very big factor – like when I was young(er), I tend to talk even more and more, wanting to be ‘heard’ and ‘accepted’, I guess.

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