Everyone Loves a Good Listener!
I like to talk.
Whenever someone asks me to describe myself, bubbly is a word I tend to use. And as I realised the other day, thanks to the Charity Auction situation, often I use my words and my personality as a shield.
However, whilst talking is important, I learned at a young age that listening is just as valuable when it comes to relationships with other people.
Recently at work I was helping train someone. She would ask me questions, and then cut me off midway through my answers. The more it happened, the more frustrated I became, until I got to the point where I simply stopped answering. No one likes to be asked a question, only to then be told the answer. And that doesn’t just apply to the working world!
On Thursday night, I headed into London for two reasons.
Firstly I was meeting the lovely Saskia from Saturday Night’s Alright. Saskia specialises in online dating profile photos. Her job is to make you look as natural and attractive as she can, in a way that’s still true to what you look like, and your personality. We hit it off immediately – she’s great, and really genuine (something which unfortunately isn’t always the case in the dating industry). And one of the reasons we got on well was not simply that we both had a lot of stories to tell, but that we also knew when to listen to the other person’s stories. I’ve always joked that I hate dates where the guy has nothing to say for himself, because I’m bored of my own stories, but essentially it’s true. One of the reasons meeting new people is so exciting and interesting is because of the new stuff they have to share with you. We all know our own stories – wouldn’t you rather hear something new, that you don’t know about?
After a few drinks with Saskia at Gordon’s Wine Bar (a great first date location, particularly if you head outside, though it gets really busy, be warned!) I went off in search of ‘London Bloggers Unite’ – an event set up over Twitter between a group of London bloggers. I headed to the centre of the City, to what was formerly the Bank of America – Steam & Rye, a bar owned by Kelly Brook. I have to admit I’d expected a quieter venue, by the time I turned up, the venue was more like a nightclub, with the England game playing on huge screens to a heaving crowd. I headed downstairs to find the bloggers, and was surprised to see the room was packed. I’d expected a bunch of 5-10 people dressed similarly to me (I was very casual, in jeans, a lacey top and espadrilles) – I quickly realised I was massively underdressed!
After a couple of tentative questions to people in the room, I also realised the room wasn’t just people at the blogging event. Unable to find any of the people I’d chatted to on Twitter, I settled down next to a couple of guys, and chatted to them while I finished my drink. It was at this point I realised just how vital the ability to listen is, when you’re talking to the opposite sex.
One of the guys was single, and relatively attractive. But every time he asked me a question, I realised he didn’t actually want to hear my answer. He wanted to tell me the answer. Several times he went so far as to let me start replying, only to then cut in and say ‘No …’; shaking his head, and answering his own question, how he wanted it to be answered!
He was Zimbabwean, but had just come from living in Johannesburg. In the half an hour I sat chatting to him, he completely missed the fact I had told him I’d been to Johannesburg. And I told him three times. Every time he started talking to me as if I’d never visited the city before, I would try to tell him that I knew the city, and he would cut me off, or carry on talking as if I’d said nothing. Frankly it was hilarious. He was trying to make a good impression – that much was clear from the things he was telling me. And yet by not actually listening to my responses, and trying to assert himself by controlling the entire conversation, he ended up doing the complete opposite! Massive fail!
Everyone loves a good conversation, but there’s more to conversation than simply speaking!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx
The story of the man from Johannesburg made me laugh, in a very “oh yeah” kind of way. Memories of conversations like those, are why Sara Bareilles’ “King of Anything,” is one of my favorite songs.
The need to show off in conversation, has been something I’ve worked for years, to help my son improve upon. His issues with insecurity and impulsivity, mean it’s even harder for him to actually listen, instead of spending his down-time in conversations, thinking of what he wants to say next. He hasn’t remotely learned to control it – and he probably won’t until he’s quite a bit older than the 18 he turned this year – but it is something he struggles to get a handle on. And he has gotten better about seeing when the behavior is annoying someone, addressing it, and offering an adequate apology.
A shame some adult men haven’t come as far as my barely-adult son has. 🙂