Tuesday, April 01, 2008

are you listening?

Last week I posted about the differences between how women and men communicate. This week I want to share some listening points. If you happen to be new to this blog, I'm not some super-intelligent person and I'm not a psychologist or anything close! These are just some points I found interesting from the psych class I just happen to be taking this semester.

NOT Such Good Ways of Listening:
(My comments are added in parentheses.)

• Making judgmental statements while others are talking. (You know, like, "I can't believe you did that. That's so stupid!")
• Pretending to understand: "I know just how you feel." (Sometimes maybe you actually do understand. So this is really about those statements which are dripping with sarcasm. Which I would never do myself.)
• Giving no response at all. (This is particularly a bad idea, especially if the other person has asked you a question. If this happens just look them in the eye and say, "I'm not sure I understand what you mean.")
• Playing psychologist by analyzing others' behavior and motives. (Like when your spouse calls to let you know they're going to be home late and you accuse them of having an affair. That could really be damaging. Especially if they're really stopping off somewhere to buy you a little gift to surprise you.)
• Giving advice when none has been sought or wanted. (I am so guilty of this. There have been many, many times someone has told me, "I just wanted to get this off my chest. I just need you to listen.")
• Directing the conversation; leading the listener on and/or finishing sentences for him/her. Interrupting. (I'm not sure I understand what this one means.)

Next time: The Good Ways of Listening


FTN said...

I'll agree with all of those, with the possible exception of the "giving advice" one. I'll admit that I am guilty of doing this, as are a lot of other men, I'm sure. But here are my thoughts:

Quite often, it's not just a woman wanting to vent, or "get something off her chest." What I see, quite often, is a problem with an obvious solution. The oversimplified conversation goes as follows:

Her: "I'm feeling upset and depressed and awful because of [so-and-so]."

Him: "Well, I'm sorry to hear that. Why don't you just do [action point] to fix it? That seems like the best course of action."

Her: "No, I think I'd rather just be depressed and angry than actually doing anything about it."

Granted, that's oversimplified, but I have trouble having too much empathy for someone not willing to put effort into fixing a problem.

And I can feel a collective death-stare right now from all of the women...

Phyllis Renée said...

I agree, FTN. There are just some people (not just men or women) who either (a) don't want a solution so they can feel sorry for themselves or (b) are so pessimistic that they don't feel anything they do wil make a difference anyway. That's when you have to say (in a very loving manner), "Well, good luck with that!"

XI Summit said...

You're right Phyllis, as always, you women should really work on this! :)

I'm gonna pay for that ...

for a different kind of girl said...

Sometimes, I find that I've lost track of my ability to listen because I'm so busy formulating my response or spinning through my file of personal examples when someone is talking to me. I know I have to curb that. I also have to learn not to get overly upset when I am talking to someone who gives no response, for I experience that aspect quite a bit.

Sailor said...

I've read that men like to "fix", and we tend to assume that's why you're telling us whatever; hence, we give advice, wanted or not.

Conversely, women tend to want to talk it out, without necessarily wanting advice; they'll make up their own minds, but want to process with someone.

Generalized, obviously- but that would seem to fit some of the "bad listening" styles here.

Great subject, thanks! As always, you leave me with something to think about.

Anonymous said...

I think my biggest guilt is letting my mind turn into things other than the conversation.

Instead of dwelling on that though, I am going to reread this post a few times and focus on being better at listening.