Listen to Me! Why Good Listeners Also Deserve to Be Heard
When Sixty and Me posted my recent article Hearing Loss Happens, But, Good Listening Skills Are a Choice, many of you joined the discussion.
You told me how frustrated you were with never being listened to. Some of you commented that you were always expected to be the listener and to show an interest in others’ lives.
Meantime, nobody listened to you. In fact, a number of women reported that those whom they had just listened to were often downright rude. They interrupted when you started to share your own life.
Being interrupted in a conversation appears to be a major problem for many older women.
What Can We Do to Get Listened to?
It is hurtful to give your time and listen lovingly to another and then be refused the same caring. That got me thinking of ways to get your needs met. So this is what I came up with. Can you imagine turning to the person you’ve just listened to and saying, “It feels good to be listened to, doesn’t it? Would you be willing to listen to me? I’d like you just to listen.”
Or perhaps you could say, “I would love to get your feedback on how I feel about something. It will help me if you keep me company while I think out loud.”
Maybe the others have never realized that you, too, need empathy and caring. Chances are, if you’re the one who always listens, they perceive you as having no troubling issues. Try out some variation of the above and let Sixty and Me readers know what happens.
In A Meeting or at Work
Have you had the experience of being in a meeting and offering your considered thoughts on the issue at hand? Expecting some acknowledgement, you realize that nobody was really listening to you? Worse, minutes later, someone else says the same thing and everyone thinks it’s a great idea.
If this is happening to you, think about the sound of your voice. I witness many intelligent, competent women sounding like children instead of grown women. That’s because their voices sound like little girls’. Perhaps, in their minds, they’re wanting not to appear bold. In reality, they give the impression they’re not to be taken seriously.
If this could be happening to you, practice taping your voice. Do you sound like someone who would have good ideas? Do you have a tone of authority when you speak?
Find a Listening Partner
Recognize the sad fact that most people have no idea how to listen effectively. Pair with a friend who would also like to be listened to and who is willing to learn a new way of listening. The two of you can practice. This way you’ll be training with someone who will listen to you.
It’s wonderful to build a listener into your life. Get together regularly in person, on Skype or on the telephone. The following are some guidelines for your partnership.
Rules for the Listener
Set aside all your own concerns and all your knowledge about a particular subject. You want to be fully present for the person you’re listening to. Ask no questions and give no advice. Just help the person get clearer about their inner thoughts by listening closely and repeating back the essence of what they’ve just said. Don’t worry if you don’t get it just right. The person will correct you and get even clearer on his or her meaning. Say back what you hear now.
Rules for the Speaker
Take a minute to check inside and find what feels comfortable to talk about. Don’t worry about being polite or hurting the listener’s feelings. What matters is that you get heard. Don’t accept advice, questions, interpretations or judgments. Don’t let your listener rush in to “fix” it.
Are you good at listening to other people? Do you often feel that you are not being listened to in a conversation? Do you sometimes feel that your comments are not taken seriously? What do you say when you are interrupted? Do you speak with authority and confidence? Please leave your comments below and let’s have a conversation.
Mary K Armstrong is a former yoga teacher and psychotherapist. She writes about aging and taking charge of your life, on moving, living well, and finding personal happiness. Visit Mary at her website and in social media.