Can You Hear Me Now?
Can You Hear Me Now?
I sometimes go to the coffee shop. OK, I go there a lot. And when I go to the coffee shop, I tend to observe people having conversations. It’s not that I’m a lecherous old eavesdropper; I’m just fascinated by how people communicate. What I’ve learned is this – Most people can tell a story ok but only an infinitesimal few can listen well. Following is a sampling of the listening styles I’ve noticed. Maybe you’ll recognize someone you know (hopefully not yourself).
While presumably paying attention, they keep rushing the speaker along as if they need to submit their story by an approaching deadline. They hear what they want to repeat and jettison the rest.
Just like the meth-head who can’t keep their fingers off the radio dial, these people keep tuning out and looking around the room as if it’s they’re some sort of international spy scanning for threats. Obviously, they have something more important on their mind.
These folks scare me. It’s like they’re documenting every word for future litigation purposes. In all fairness, if anyone over sixty takes notes, we get a pass because notes are the only way we can remember your name, our own name, and what either of us said. Feel free to make a note of that.
It’s as if every single sentence reminds them of some bunnytrail they need to take the conversation down. For the two percent of you still in the dark, I sometimes suffer from this affliction. On the other hand, if you ever encounter the opportunity to goad a true Schizo on a bit, it will undoubtedly lead to an entertaining three-hour verbal tour. That reminds me….
Talking with one of these people is like going to a fraternity reunion. The second you take a breath, they’re ready to jump in and one-up you, loudly enough for everyone in the room to hear. Two classic competitive listeners frequent my favorite coffee shop where I’ve actually heard one of them (over the music in my earbuds) start a sentence with “That’s nothing; you should have seen me when.…”.
Nothing is more detrimental to a good conversation that one person attempting to model their new, whiter teeth – just sitting there with that fake, sh!#-eating grin pasted on their face, pretending to listen and never realizing what the string of beef jerky sticking out from beside their left incisor looks like. Hence the name.
Mother Superior of Wokism
Anybody who ever attended Catholic school will recognize the judgmental listener who gasps at your slightest indiscretion as if they’d just been goosed by the wet nose of a friendly German Shepherd. And now, we even have the Woke Militia who’ve added misuse of pronouns to our list of gasp-worthy transgressions.
I’m from Texas. We say “Ain’t” and “Y’all”, and I swear the next time some holier-than-thou English major corrects my vocabulary, I’m gonna go postal. (Yeah, we say “gonna” too.) I seriously want to ask if they correct their partner’s grammar during sex.
Then, there’s that goofus who sits there nodding their head like we’re experiencing some sort of invisible seismic event. They think it looks like they’re paying attention but their ill-timed nods reveal their underlying daydream … or slow wit … or both.
Cell phone addict
Would it hurt you to leave the damn device alone for ten friggin minutes while we talk? That text you just got isn’t going to self-destruct like Mission Impossible and your dog is still going to be just as dead even if you don’t hear about it instantly. I swear I’m going to preprogram a “Hey, remember me?” text I can surreptitiously send to these junkies in the middle of our conversation.
Y’all know who I’m talking about so don’t start acting all innocent and/or offended. To be fair, some fraction of these people can’t look all the way up because they really are suffering the after-effects of either a cataclysmic automobile accident or hours of watching late-night TV while lying on their back in bed. If you poke your index finger into their forehead and attempt to lift their gaze, you stand a chance of enjoying their blood-curdling scream of agony as calcified neck vertebrae duel for dominance … and later you’ll get sued for assault.
What does it all mean? Has our culture truly come to a point that we can no longer sit and have a genuine conversation where we share ideas and information? In the spirit of social rebellion, I’m willing to buck the new norm if you are. Just hit that reply button and let’s pick a time. I’ll buy the coffee … or margaritas … or margaritas and tacos (in which case, I’ll talk while you’re chewing and you can talk while I’m chewing). I love tacos so you’ll get plenty of time to talk. But that “Three hour tour” thing really did remind me of a Gilligan’s Island episode I need to tell you about.
“If we were meant to talk more than listen, we’d have two mouths and one ear.”
― Mark Twain
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The Lost Art of Listening
— Dr. Michael P. Nichols
True Confession Time – I haven’t actually “listened” to this book yet but I did purchase it on Audible after listening to the intro and reviewing the table of contents so by the time you actually read this, I will probably have listened to it at least once. That doesn’t mean I’m going to provide you with the Cliff Notes version over coffee. You’ve got to do your own growing.
Hey Mister, Have You Seen My Boat?
— ghostwritten by Guy Lawson
Subtitled, “The Mysterious Case of the High-Tide Boat Bandits” and based on a true story, this is a cautionary tale about the perils of spending a day under the hot Gulf Coast sun with nothing to drink but a case of tepid Old Milwaukee Beer.