Conversation reflects what’s on the mind. People do our jobs for us – they reveal themselves, if only we would listen. The problem is, we rarely listen carefully enough. – Noah Lukeman from The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life
I happened upon this quote in the context of learning how to be a better writer. But it struck me so strongly, I ended up plunging down a rabbit hole full of questions revolving around being a better listener.
I have a friend who talks. A lot. He has an incredible memory and his mind is like a set of encyclopedias running a marathon. Unfortunately, if someone is speaking to me, especially at breakneck speed in order to get everything out before he loses my attention or has to take a breath, he’s actually wasting his breath. My mind can only remember what someone else says for a few seconds, not necessarily in the correct order and I’m attempting to interpret and categorize as I go. And although I may be using ‘I’ while making these statements, I really mean WE.
According to Sharon Drew Morgen,
our brains arbitrarily delete or redefine anything our Communication Partners (CPs) say that might be uncomfortable or atypical. Unfortunately, we then believe that what we think we’ve heard – a subjective translation of what’s been said – is actually what was said or meant. It’s usually some degree of inaccurate. And it’s not our fault. Our brains do it to us.
What if we just started by intentionally recognizing everyone with whom we’re speaking as a Communication Partner? And then move forward with the recognition of our CP as a goldmine of knowledge, experience, biases, “assumptions, triggers, habituated neural pathways, and memory channels that sift out what’s being said”?
Stay tuned…I haven’t even gotten to the part about listening to the voiceless yet.