I’ve been working on habits and thus far, one of the hardest bad ones to break is my habit of interrupting. I’ve noticed that sometimes I interrupt with a comment about myself:
Oh, that happened to me just last week!
I had cancer too, five years ago.
Oh my gosh. If you’re making trifles, I have a great recipe for an English trifle!
I’m especially guilty of this when talking to Cliff:
Your night’s sleep was awful? I was awake for three hours.
I’m noticing the pattern and am now able to say things like, “Oh. I’m sorry to interrupt. Back to you!”
When I had a second trimester miscarriage 35 years ago, I heard some really sad stories of miscarriages and of stillbirths. I took the sharing as a concerned gesture, but on reflection, these stories only made me sad for the babies lost. They didn’t help me with my own grief. The tellers meant well, and I hold no grudge.
But telling stories about yourself is not usually the best response. And so I’m working on it, both in light situations and in more serious ones. I’ve read that it’s best to listen to the other person’s story and then ask permission to tell your own.
Here’s a great article on mindful listening. There are links at the bottom to other helpful articles about listening.
What about you? Do people tell you you’re a good listener? Any tips?
Painting: I painted my cow to be an excellent listener. Note the gentle smile and the engaged eyes.