45 Things I Learned... 37

Monday, February 20, 2023

I have heard it so many times that I am a good listener. I trained myself to listen since I was a young child while observing the adults around me and hearing what they were discussing or arguing about. You cannot imagine how much is to be learned just from listening. It's more than simple data collection. One can discover and connect different info into a larger thread. I don't know if I am blessed, or cursed, by the ability to associate multiple facts and recreate the big picture. But my cartesian mind requires a clear path, even if some steps are missing, to come to a conclusion. Not that I would cast a judgment because when analyzing the input at hand, my mind is detached and devoid of emotion regarding what is happening. I listen because I care and I am curious about the human race. What makes people tick so to say. I do not voice my opinion unless it is asked for. And I remain careful as long as I have only received a one-sided input...

That reminds me of that American man who sat next to me on my first-ever flight to Washington DC and the USA more than 20 years ago. He told me all his life stories, the names of his children and pets, his plans, and his line of work, before realizing he had been talking for hours, even through one meal and the coffee snack, and I had politely indulged him, initially not to look rude, and then with more interest. We have all had these passengers sit next to us whether on a plane, a train, a bus, or even the subway, and start flooding us with a narrative that seems endless. I learned long ago to switch inside of my head while remaining civil in appearance when needed. Sometimes, I don't want to listen to people's tales. And often, I am in my head on a totally distinct subject or affair, or multiple ones, while my ears pick on the tonality to keep aware of the matter at hand. I am direct enough to brush the person off when I can't or don't want to listen though.

Usually, taxi drivers are either overly chatty or mute. I prefer the latter kind. And I still remember the one who wouldn't stop trying to make a conversation when I deliberately answered all he said with yes or no. Until I heard him state, I have never heard anyone named "cepa" (sais pas, French for I dunno), which I had muttered, extremely annoyed that he wouldn't stop trying to make me interact. At this point, I simply smirked, and explained that I didn't feel like conversing and that all I wanted and had paid for was the ride back home from the university campus. This happened more than 25 years ago, during my first semester at uni in Beirut when I didn't have a driver's license as I was still not 18. Many years later, when I'm not driving myself and have to call a cab, I make sure to check whether the chauffeur is rated for being a chatterbox or not. A cabbie's job is to take me from point A to point B. The babble is not part of the deal. That's why I always rate the silent ones the highest because riding with them allows me to catch up on emails, and texts, or just gaze off at the landscape outside the car window...

Some quotes on listening:

Learn to speak by listening - Rumi

The difference between hearing and listening is paying attention - Ruth Messinger

Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, and others over self - Dean Jackson

Being a good listener is truly a spiritual gift. Good listeners are medicine for the soul. Having your soul really heard is therapeutic - Lalah Delia

Attentive listening to others lets them know that you love them and builds trust, the foundation of a loving relationship - Brian Tracy

To listen with empathy is the most important human skill - Stephen R. Covey

Prayer is listening for the still small voice of God. Listening with the "ear of our heart" - Richard J. Foster

Listening is not limited to being quiet while another person or group of people are voicing out opinions, concerns, or feelings. It can be listening to a graceful melody even if you are humming the words of that song/beat you like, a soft sea or mountain breeze at the end of a day, or simply the sounds of nature. Being an empath, when someone feels comfortable enough to open up to me, I politely listen a little before determining if I want to remain polite or rather need to cut it short. We are already subjected to so much noise pollution. I don't want to add on when I don't have to! This explains why, when stuck in traffic, I occasionally turn off my music and just listen. And I smirk, as I start counting in my head how long the silence would last before someone honks... 

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