How do you feel when someone’s not listening?
If a colleague or friend prefers to stay on send rather than receive, it means you won’t get a word in edge ways, and it can steal your mojo in an instant:
Your heart sinks.
Or you silently seethe.
Or you might just shut down, and wonder “what’s the point”.
One of the biggest challenges in any relationship – work or home – is when no one feels like they’re being heard. Listening, like empathy, has become a skill many need to develop.
In her book You’re Not Listening, Kate Murphy explains how we’ve disconnected from healthy dialogue and it’s literally causing a global crisis – of a different kind. In 2018, the U.K. appointed a “Minister for Loneliness” to help the 9 million citizens who often or always feel lonely. In Japan, you can even hire an actor to pretend to be your friend. Communication has also transcended into emojis and gifs, rather than a good old chin wag.
Part of the reason for this – aside from a worldwide pandemic – might be because (especially during lockdown) we’ve created an online “brand” or persona that gives the impression we have everything under control. You might have heard me say before, that we were “socially” distant long before COVID, with people feeling like they have to define themselves and shape a narrative on social media that makes it look like they fit in.
So what do we do?
This week, maybe set the intention to Reset the Volume. If the world has got a bit loud lately, it’s ok to take time to yourself to be quiet and still. (There’s a difference between loneliness and a preference for solitude). If you’ve been comparing yourself to other’s social media and trying to keep up, remember no one is posting their failures on Facebook. If you keep feeling like you’re falling short, ask yourself “compared to what?”
If someone’s not listening to you right now, it’s ok to recalibrate the platform and ask people to respect your voice. Speak from the “I” position: “I’d like you to put your phone down when I speak”, or “I feel like I need to say this without you talking over me”. If you’ve pushed people away lately as a coping mechanism, find those who are ready to hear what you have to say; the quality of your circle can make a difference to how heard you feel. If things aren’t going well, it’s ok to reach out.
And when someone speaks to you, give them your whole attention. Model good listening in your interactions with others and set the tone for what, at the very least, you’re prepared to accept.
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Copyright Delphi Ellis 2021