Friday, April 17, 2009

Hear Hear

I got some great comments back from yesterday's post. It seems that this mystery of the ears and what to do with them, is something that most of us have considered or been impacted by, mostly for the negative. Just as I thought...

Beth be yourself, everyone else is taken said, "...the one thing I know for sure is that after almost 25 years of marriage, my hubby and I suck at listening to each other...he is worse of course! No matter what I say or when or how, I always get a, 'huh?' or a 'what' from him and have to repeat myself. Then when I do, he listens (italics mine,) and still ends up clueless to what I'm saying....arrghhh !!! It's actually the one thing we fight about the most."

That sounds really familiar, doesn't it? Why is it that men and women seem so vastly different in terms of the ability to listen? It probably relates back to the species development and what men were responsible for vs. what women were built for...I discuss my view of the whole issue in my post Tigers And Berries if you want to chuckle over some of what makes us so different.

Opie may challenge me on what I'm about to say next, as he is one of the rare men who actually does seem good at listening, but it's my strong belief that the main difference between men and women in terms of listening is: Men aren't trained to's not required of them to learn to listen. Not a skill that is demanded of them.

But, women? Oh, we're trained from tiny, "Listen here, Missy...," and I think a woman's natural wish to please people, to be in relationship with others, activates an innate desire to listen to everything!!! Unfortunately, that need to listen to everything is what gives us the bad rap as being nebbie and gossipy. Well, look here World, you can't have it both ways! If you want women to be good listeners, then the shadow side is that we listen to all of it. Whether or not that is what you want.

Men are trained to Do. Women are trained to Wait. In the waiting space, one learns to be passive. In the passive part, one learns to become a witness, or observer, of life instead of an active participant. Now, don't get all up in my grill... I'm not saying that women aren't living life well...I'm suggesting how we got to this point of being able to listen better than males.

The only man I know who didn't fit this rule is The King. Because my father was so badly crippled by the time he was 16, he was effectively taken out as a player of the game and benched to spend the rest of his life as an observer. It made him a glorious listener. And, he was stellar at observing the Human condition. Amazing in his ability to catch the subtle 'tells' that the rest of us miss because we're so busy doing. I learned my ability to observe from Dad.

Men live in the moment. For the most part, that's where they spend their entire life. Right here...right now. They only focus on one thing at a time...go back and read about tigers...

Women on the other hand, live in the entire galactic space of infinite's a hard job, but somebody's gotta' do it. So, yeah, women can multi-task. They can be watching the stove top while fuming over a spat in the past and mentally ticking off where they have to be next week...all at the exact same time. Creepy, isn't it? The need for us to do that, is also the the thing that has made us better at listening. For most women, the challenge is to learn to NOT listen to everything.

Men, need to learn to translate hearing into focusing and taking it in...e.g. LISTEN. Women need to understand that when men are listening, it's for the express purpose of DOING something with that information; or fixing. So, if they listen awhile and don't hear things they can do something about- they mentally retreat into their man cave, "Nothing for me to fix here..."

As a female, you desire the mental and emotional hug that comes from being heard...being attended to. Listened to. We make the mistake of thinking that just because he's looking at you, he's listening. But, if you didn't give him something to fix in that barrage of info, guess what? He's not. Which leads to Beth's well stated frustration.

So, when it comes to a woman talking with a a fella out! He cares about you and will give you what you need. If all you want is to be heard, attended to, you need to tell him that. He loves you, but he ain't a mind reader. Let him know all he has to do is give you the air-time to tell your story. You're not asking him to fix it. Or do anything. I give Michael a preamble, "I just want you to listen to me. You don't need to do anything about what I'm saying because I don't think there's anything to do about it. Okay?" Once stated, easily provided.

The next part of this whole listening thing, is knowing what it is you really want. Do you want air-time? Or, do you need to be listened to? Be careful now...there's a difference. If you ask to be listened to, that means that the other person is going to respond with their thoughts on the issue. You may or may not like them. But, if every time you ask to be listened to, and you shoot the other between the eyes for telling you...umm, you can bet most people will not want to get caught in that game with you.

It hurts to be shot between the eyes...

Learn what it is you want, and develop the courage to ask for it. As Teachable said, "I have also learned to just say to the person that I don't think that they are listening to me." Now, that takes courage. It also means you must know what you need. What does that look like to you?

How do you know that you're being listened to? While it's easier to assume if the person is sitting and looking at you, I promise you, it's not required. I don't have to be looking at you, but you'll be absolutely certain that I am listening. I've learned to give clues to assure you and by feeding back what you're saying at the appropriate time. My Aunt Rose, was great at cooking and still making you feel listened to, maybe it runs in the family.

However, because I am such a great listener, even though I don't have to be looking right at you, if that's what you need, that's what I give you. I must accommodate if I am to be judged as effective by you.

Learn the clues that confirm listening. The body language is the mechanism...subtle but vital. Jen, My Pet requests, "Let's see another post about listening to body language." And, that's a great way to put it, because we do need to know how to listen to body interpret it.

Jen was talking about her toddler having a, as she so wonderfully put it, "melt down like chocolate on a dash board..." I love that! Can't you see it? And, she didn't see the body language...didn't listen to it. She was reacting, hearing the noise her little one was making. Turns out she had a fever...but Jen didn't know that until she decided the best thing she could give her baby was a hug and a kiss on the forehead. Ahh! Now you get it...

When we judge a situation before we open ourselves to listening, we run it through filters that keep us from understanding and seeing things for what they are.... We'll talk about listening in difficult situations another time. It's all part of the magic, the miracle of listening! What part is the hardest for you? What part do you feel you do well with and how did you develop your gift?

Namaste' Till Next Time,


Samantha said...

I like to listen. In fact, it's the meaning of my name, Samantha: a listener. The biggest struggle I have is then trying not to give too many directions or unwanted advice.

The "fix it" reaction is so common in men, and in my mother, for some reason, so I usually step in at some point and say, "I don't want you to fix it for me, I just want you to listen and give me a hug." But even then, my last boyfriend couldn't seem to catch on.
He would listen by being completely quiet and saying nothing at all, and then I'd feel unheard. Eventually, I figured out what was missing. It was all the little signals and cues you get from a good listener, that encourage you to go on, to keep opening up, that support you to bare your soul with confidence.

I think I learned about the art of listening by reading so many psychology and self-help books. I wish they would teach that stuff in schools ~ it is just so valuable.

To control my urge to butt in with too much unwanted wisdom, I run these phrases through my mind whilst I'm listening:
Remember, (name) has her own path to follow. All is perfect in her world. She will find the answers she needs when she is ready. She is already whole, perfect and complete.

This comes from a healing method that was given to the world by Mother Mary, which is called the Immaculate Concept. You hold and maintain an image or concept of that person as already being completely whole, immaculate, perfect. This is the greatest healing service we can give to anyone.

But sometimes it is just so difficult to do!

Congratulations on reaching 50 fans today, Wise One. xx

beth said... are amazing !!
I thought it was just my son who lives in the moment, but it's men in general....

and the fact that I can be doing 5 things and still repeat everything my husband just told really is a woman thing !!!

so from now on, if I really want him to hear me...I'm going to exopect less and give more...oh help me lord !!!

seriously though....what you wrote was superb !

Holly said...

No, you don't have to give him more, you just have to be clear about what you want from him. Make sure he's listening...which means you'll be talking about something that requires his input. Or, you want him to hear, which means he sits and gives you air-time but won't need to do anything once you've come to the end of your saga.

Once you're clear about what you need and can ask for it, anyone who loves you, (and heck who wouldn't love you?,) will give it to you. Make sense?

Anonymous said...

WOW, I must say it's me who does not listen very well....when my husband starts talking about his job or his band, sometimes, I swear, I could fall asleep because it just doesn't interest me....I am just so rude. Even with my dearest friend, while shopping or just visiting, my mind tends to drift off...I'm sorry. In this relationship, it's the man who listens and remembers. Perhaps it's from the years and years that I did listen, I listened for the babies, I listened when the boys were little playing outside, I listened for the dog when he was ready to come back in, I listened for the husband to pull up so I knew when to start setting the table....perhaps I'm just tired of listening. These days, I have a darling little girl who listens to me when I read her bedtime stories to her…that’s all I need.

PS - I love the elephant, proof that God has a sense of humor.

beth said...

I might have to duct tape him to the kitchen chair and stand right in front of him naked in order to get that kind of listening attention...but then I'd be naked and nothing I would say would register then....cripes, I might not win this one :)

Life With Dogs said...

Um, what did you say again? :p

I love living up to stereotypes. It becomes me. I can't be a good listener, I'm too busy working on a blog with a phallic symbol as the central character.

I do agree, just being my usual contrarian self. Thanks for waking my brain back up this Friday evening, you always get me thinking...

Samantha said...

Whilst we're on the subject of listening, why don't men communicate? I will spend half an hour pouring out my side of the story, and wait to receive his in return, only to get one phrase or one line, that reveals absolutely nothing. I could cry with frustration!!

Ribbon said...

Hi Holly,
I know a lot of women that are crap at listening too.
I'm not convinced that the lack of listening skills is a gender specific thing.
In my family mostly the men were better listeners...

best wishes and thank you for your much appreciated visits.

Ribbon :-)

Toni said...

My Queen,

Your post on listening? stunning.

And synchronistic beyond belief, for me. Double BB came home from work the day you posted it, really upset because 'nobody knows how to listen!' Having just re-read your post, I brought it up, and soon found myself reading portions of it to him. We had a 2 hour discussion about it.

Oddly, later on, my youngest decided to leave the house with a friend, not telling any of us where he was going. When I finally reached him on his cell phone, he then didn't want to commit to a time when he would be home. Parents seeing RED. (this being an on-going problem with him, now that he's 18 ...)

So we stayed up, waited for him, in 'pounce' mode ... and then suddenly we both looked at each other and said, nearly simultaneously, 'This would probably be a really GOOD opportunity to put some of those listening suggestions to practice.' So we did, and Kevin (shocked at our calm and demeanor) opened more than he EVER has, all his life.

Lessons listened to, applied, with undue success.

Usually I'm the one practicing it. Like you, I was born with it ... except I battle it because there are times when I really need to be listened TO and there is no outlet for me, for that, anywhere. Double BB and I communicate physically, beautifully, but outside of that? Not so much, not very often. Very very difficult for me, that. Lots of loneliness. Lots of the reason I still rely so heavily on my written journal -- TO BE HEARD.

So to have Double BB realize he needed to adjust his usual combative, I Am Boss posture was so huge I can't even begin to explain the significance to you. I can only thank you.

Thank you. Thank you.

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