Do You Talk, Listen or Connect?

There is a difference between having someone to listen to you and having someone you can talk to. More often than not having someone listen to you is easy. All you have to do is be with someone who has nothing to say or at worst, pretend they are listening. It’s not as much as having a conversation, but there are some moments where you need someone to listen, at least to get things off your chest.

Then there is someone you can talk to. It isn’t just about a one sided conversation. It’s about talking things through, listening and sharing thoughts between people. Moments in where connecting with someone means more to you than the company of their presence.

For most of my life, I’ve been the former. I’ve been someone who has listened to others, been the shoulder to cry on and be the witness between events. In return, I have searched high and low for someone to talk to. A confessor to the pope if there is such a term. I have searched and I have found a handful of people who are willing to listen.

Yet, after all this time, the lack of people to connect with still voids my life as a whole. Even among friends I consider to be close, they are afraid of me, afraid of the thoughts that I have lived with for a long time. There is so much people who pretend to listen can do, it’s time I search high and low for the people I can connect with. People that aren’t afraid of who I am.

If ever there was a moment I can share in return with the people that share their moments with me, life would mean so much more than being clinically cold and methodical. I can’t pretend to be a rock forever and neither can the world pretend to listen forever. One way or another, some darkness can’t be kept at bay by just sheer willpower alone, they either need to be talked over with with friends you can trust or acted out on people you pick at random. Sometimes I don’t know which is worse, being normal or being a person like me.

That aside, have you ever felt that need to connect with people when having them listen isn’t enough? Or is listening enough? A penny for your thoughts.

11 thoughts on “Do You Talk, Listen or Connect?

  1. I’ve learned that there are a few levels of listening:

    – Listening and forgetting (it’s actually called hearing)
    – Selective Listening (pick up bits you want to listen too and ignoring the rest)
    – Listening to Respond (you already have an “agenda” and you’re just waiting for the speaker to confirm this and respond with a predetermined answer)
    – Listening Emphatically (listening to understand, confirming every now and then what you’ve heard from the speaker)

    The thing is, if you’re serious about understanding what the speaker is trying to communicate to you, you should listen to them emphatically.

    This is easier said than done. I myself am guilty of the Listening to Respond offense more times than I’d like to admit. I might have some templated answer I’ve stored in my brain somewhere for similar events I’ve faced in the past.

    The thing is, no two people are exactly the same. Therefore there isn’t a “standard answer” for any event regardless of how similar they are.

    Listening emphatically is a skill many talk about and yet very few mastered.

  2. There’s listening and pretending to listen, in one ear out the other. As for connections, they just happen with me, that magical moment that says, ‘we have something good here’.

  3. All my life I’ve been the listener. Always have been. Sometimes it gets really exhausting because people start taking you for granted on what a wonderful listener you are. And when it’s time for you to speak, nobody wants to listen. Sigh.

  4. I remember when studying psychology we looked at body language and micro expressions. One of the differences between being ‘listened to’ and ‘connecting’ comes from these micro expressions. When there is connection it is like a dance with body language and micro expressions being passed and syncronised between the people involved. Often this can be mirroring or bouncing off each other. I think that it’s the unsaid body language and these micro expressions which makes the difference between passive listening and connection.

    Finding people you can really connect with is not easy. For me, a great deal of my interactions are online where the most helpful key (body language) is removed. If you are say on skype you can get inclination from the voice but the typed word is not a great one for our brains as we can’t ‘see’ those micro expressions we rely on so heavily. In part this is probably the culprit for a great deal of online misinterpretation.

    Personally, I have found very few people I really connect with. I’m luck my husband is one of those. I also very easily can spot even without seeing him when he’s not paying attention to something I am saying. Over time I’ve learnt and absorbed his micro expressions. It makes me laugh as we seems to have melted both our body language libraries into one – we often find ourselves using each others.

    In my business interactions I try and use the knowledge of body language and micro expressions to become an active listener – really that is another name someone who is connecting. I also try and bring active listening into my personal interactions. My brain works on over drive a lot though so I have to keep it in check – I have an annoying habit of being able to talk and listen at the same time. Not great for interactions as most people find this off putting. I’ve only ever found one other person who could talk and listen at the same time – made for quite an odd conversation to someone outside as for all intense and purposes we weren’t communicating or listening at all – it was just a stream of inline conversation. But, we were listening and connecting. I now try and keep myself and brain in check and actively listen whilst trying to adjust to the level of who I am talking to.

  5. Hey Kami, I first visited your site before I was a member of the 9r. Thanks to Gnorb, I was reminded to re-visit it. 🙂

    This post reminds me of Fight Club, the way Jack and Marla both join those “terminal support groups”.

    Marla: Why do you do it?
    Jack: I don’t know. I guess when people think you’re dying, they really listen, instead…
    Marla: Instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.

    I think it’s a sad truth that many are so self-centered. Most only fall into the “listening and forgetting” category. It makes one appreciate those who can listen emphatically.

  6. Azmeen: Knowing what they are is one thing. Putting to practice like you said is another. Connecting with people on the other hand is about more than just randomly picking people. It’s about find people that share the same directions in life as you are. It’s not as clinical as just knowing what it is. It’s also about walking down that path. Something that takes both time and opportunity to work out.

    ChickyBabe: You’re one lucky gal did you know that ChickyBabe?

    Tine: That’s always a problem isn’t it? It’s never too easy. Then again, is you want someone to talk to and listen, you know where to find me. I’m always here. 🙂

    Karmatosed: Ironically I find that in my partner as well. To connect with each other without saying a word, that’s one of the few things in life that’s worth the time taken to reach that point. I don’t know if talking and listening at the same time is disturbing, but then to pick up more than just the conversation at hand is one advantage that I find handy. To know more than what you would is always a good thing. At the end of it, I think it’s more of the conversation at hand that I rely on for connection. While body language is always a bonus, I’ve grown too disillusioned with one way conversations to feel a need to add body language into the mix. As long as people talk back on the same topic. I’m happy.

    Jeff: Thanks for dropping by! That’s the thing about the human race. For the most part, people never see in the eyes of another until they find themselves disconnected from their own sense of self. You tend to appreciate what comes in all its rarity.

  7. Kam – your 1st response in the comments could be a post by itself :0) I think there are a lot of people that feel that way, myself included, and of course there is no easy way to make connections these days – especially as we grow older.

  8. Why am I lucky? Luck has nothing to do with it in my experience. You find common ground, or you don’t. But when you do, and it’s reciprocated, you work on that connection to keep it.

  9. Tanya: I think as we grow older, our ability to connect with people grows given the experience we have over our life and how we run it. The younger we are, the more we need to show people what we’re capable off, the less likely we are to listen.

    ChickyBabe: It’s the finding that is considered lucky. Like you said, you either find them or you don’t. The hardest part is finding them, at least the way I’ve always felt.

  10. When I went to Uni I was in Coms Studies and ventured into the Human Relations dept to take a ‘Respecting Diversity in Human Relationships’ and a couple of others and I was always amazed at the dichotomy there was between Uni and high school for me.

    In high school I was the big looser, I had good grades and not all of the great new clothes. So I was put aside. I felt inadequate most of the time. While in Uni, the teachers were able to harvest a safe and respectful environmment where we were invited to share our deepest fears, prejudices and whatnot. It was amazing for me to get together in small groups for 20-30 minutes at a time and just discuss whatever we had on our minds. Listen to other people and learn to be non-judgmental and open.

    I always thought afterwards how these types of classes should be way up there with english, french, geography, maths and all those other supposedly ‘important’ study topics.

    Creating and nurturing emotional intelligence is just as important as it is with any other type of intelligence.

  11. Open communication is always one of those things that helps foster a good relationship with people. Of course, that can’t always work. I mean, when it comes down to it. Trust doesn’t hurt. The inability to handle the truth does. So I guess where you’re coming from, how we learn to put the words into context for our benefit of communication. That’s pretty important as an intelligence. 🙂

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