For the life of me, I cannot listen. Or maybe I cannot hear. But I’m pretty sure that it is a listening issue. I cannot stop talking or interrupting long enough to actually LISTEN to what someone is trying to tell me. I listen for a few seconds or minutes and then jump right in and start talking – solving the problem, defending myself against an attack (real or perceived), defusing whatever points of the argument I have automatically decided/know/feel are not valid or factual.
And let me tell you – it sucks. It sucks for the person I’m talking to (most often Mr. KB, by virtue of being the person I see/talk to the most), and it sucks for me. It sucks for him because he never gets heard, never gets to tell me all of his thoughts or his whole point of view and HAVE ME HEAR EVERYTHING and it sucks for me because not listening and doing what I always do (see previous) means that I am forever getting shit wrong or exacerbating an issue or problem un-necessarily. It just makes everyone feel badly. And that sucks. And I hate it. And I need to change it.
Not surprisingly, this (my obtuseness/aversion/inability to listen) is a huge point of contention around here (as it should be) and the fact that I’ve been unable to change it after all these years is very frustrating, disheartening and infuriating for both me and the ones I love (Mr. KB specifically). It probably pisses hoards of other people off too, but they have been too polite or just don’t give enough of a shit about it to talk about it with me (and I probably would not listen to, or hear them anyway, so good choice for them, I suppose).
I have been trying to figure out what my brain damage is on this one (this is one of the few times that I regret not having a history of LCD and alcohol abuse to blame) and some of the bullshit excuses for it that I’ve tried (and failed) to convince myself of are:
1. I was an only child, so I never properly learned how to share (toys, food, AIRSPACE) and never had to really listen to a peer on a regular basis (friends don’t live with you when you’re a kid because that would be AWESOME. And parents don’t count. You have to listen to them or they sell you).
2. My family of origin loves a good debate. Or at least I think that they do. Shit. Maybe it’s just me assuming they do and they’ve been banging their heads against the wall for DECADES because of my listening-failure. Fuck.
3. I have an as-yet-undiscovered medical condition that makes my ears stop working after hearing another human voice and causes my mouth to start talking – even when it has absolutely nothing of value to say. I’m donating my body to science. Like NOW. No need to wait. Come and get me- it’s time to figure this shit out.
4. Sorry does not change shit. I spend more than half of my life being sorry for one thing or another. Time to wake up, sista. Sorry never made a lick of difference (unless you run over someone’s yippy-yappy dog, “on accident.” Then you should be sorry. ‘Cause you’re going straight to Hell. But maybe that’s for another day.)
This is what I have come up with by way of a cheat sheet:
I know 1 and 5 are repeated, but in my case I think it bears repeating. But clearly perfection and knowing everything just is not me, so I’m sure there is a TONNE of room for improvement with my solution. So help me out. What strategies, techniques, secrets, methods, voodoo magic potions do YOU use to help you remember to LISTEN up first? Please share how you do it.