Listen Up

By Gisselle Hernandez, Features Editor 

If you have been keeping up with my columns, you know I’m an introvert at heart (96% introverted, according to this online quiz I took.) Because of this, I am often on the other end of conversations, listening and absorbing more than contributing. I have often been chastised for this throughout my life, for not giving my opinion, but more often than not, I have a good reason to do so.

In the rare moments that I decide to give my ‘oh-so-valuable’ input, they are often taken dismissively. We have all heard of people in this day and age having conversations to wait for their turn to speak and not to listen. I have also been guilty of this sometimes, but it happens so much to me that I decide to just shut up and listen. In groups or even one-on-one conversations, people would pour out the latest gossip or their very, very strong beliefs, – whether religious, political or something as simple as what they think of the writer’s decision to kill someone off on a show – but when I try to give my input, their eyes glaze over and the timer has been set for a countdown until they can talk again.

Most people don’t realize they do this; humans are naturally self-absorbed without even trying to be. It’s never about what you think of them, but what they think of you, so most of the time people are trying to cram their ideas and beliefs down friends’ throats without trying to listen to what they actually have to say. I came to this hard realization when I actually was one of those people speaking without consequence, fired-up over some debate, trying to prove I was right. Thing is, you’re not right if you aren’t hearing the other side. And this doesn’t go only for the obvious tense political ambiance surrounding all of us this week, but little things like asking your friend how her day went. Do you really care? Or did you just ask so you could tell someone about how your day went?

Newsflash: other people have stuff to say, too. And you don’t have to be one-upping people all the time, too. Countless times I have confessed to a friend about something horrible that happened to me and then have them make it about themselves. Whether bringing up “something worse” so I can see I “don’t have it that bad” or using it as a parachute to land on one of their successes they have been dying to tell you. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re proud of something or if you want to share some experiences, you have every right to. But not at the expense of someone else.

It’s time for people to realize it’s not all about them. Talking over someone else or making people feel like their thoughts don’t matter can lead to more serious consequences, like people bottling up their problems or feeling like they have no one to talk to. Everyone wants not only to be heard, but to be listened to. With time and practice, this can be achieved.

Next time you’re having a conversation, don’t keep thinking about what you’re going to say next. Try to focus on what the other person is saying first. You never know, you might find they’re actually worth listening to.