Here’s a little unknown fact about me, I grew up with a speech impediment. I used to have a stuttering problem, which really began to suck, because I felt like I had so much to say, but people would get frustrated listening to me. Something that would take other people a few seconds to say would take me a few minutes. I began to get a rush out of conversations, my sisters became my interpreters and would have to become almost clairvoyant so they could tell people what I wanted in a shortened way. I actually had an uncle who would feel sorry for me when I was talking, and if he rushed me off he would come back and give me some money to make up for it. For years my pockets were loaded with guilt money, which was great for buying candy, but not for helping my verbal skills.
After going to a speech specialist when I was in preschool, I’ve been able to talk without stuttering… even though it tries to rear it’s ugly head whenever I get too flustered (hey, I think it’s cute, but wha-wha-wha-whatever). But an upside to not being able to speak correctly was that I was able to hone my listening skills. While people avoided conversations with me (how sad is that?), I would listen to conversations and arguments and would be able to see both sides. However, I did begin to notice a few things that baffled me about communication. A lot of arguments can be avoided if people adhered to the simple understandings of what true communication is. To me, communication is like a four way stop; it’s a breeze when all the parties participating know how to work it, but can be dangerous if people jump the gun. So to you, you amazing Madame Noire readers, here are a few things I would like to share about communication.
There is a difference between hearing and listening.
Have you ever been in a heated discussion (because you’re too classy to argue) and you make your point, and the person who is verbally combating you, says their side, and then you do your confused head tilt because you’re thinking: ”Wait, I just said that!” (And if that never happened, maybe I’m talking about you…) The person in question clearly wasn’t listening.
According to dictionary.com, one of the definitions of hearing is “the act of perceiving sound,” and listening is: ”give attention with ear… to pay attention.” Listening is an action, whereas hearing is passive. To better understand, see it this way: you might hear a song while you’re in a restaurant eating, but are you listening to it? Just because you hear what a friend is saying, are you really comprehending it?
So now that you know the difference, let’s take it a step further…
Listen to what a person is saying, instead of waiting for your turn to speak.
Oh, I feel your pain, this person just said or did something and you GOT something for them! You’ve got a verbal backhand in your mind, and all you’re doing is waiting for them to shut their mouth so you can put some baby powder on it and smack them with it! Well, before you do that, consider holding off your attack.
Don’t get me wrong, everyone has a point and their feelings are valid, but a lot of times, a lot of strife in communication is due to people just waiting for their turn to speak. They allow hurt and anger to stop them from listening to what’s being said to them and in turn their comments are not only unhelpful to the conversation, but they might continue to beat a dead horse. If you just listen to a person you might be able to understand their point, or you’ll be able to have an actual conversation with them instead of making some random comment that sets the conversation back ten minutes.