Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Listen, Hear, Make A Friend

The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.
- Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

Many people equate hearing with listening. They believe that if they are facing a speaker and not talking themselves, they are listening and hearing. Listening, more than anything, requires a person to point their face at the speaker. Hearing obliges the non-speaker to engage his brain with the purpose of making sense of what is spoken and replying to it.

Some people don't hear what another person is saying because they don't care what is being said. They are more interested in what they have to say themselves.

Many times two people appear to be carrying on a conversation, but it's not a dialogue. It's two adjacent and alternating monologues with each speaker smiling at the other and looking at him or her frequently. Everything in that conversation is out-going, with nothing coming in to be considered by the brain of either participant.

Actually taking the time to listen to someone, considering what they have said, then replying in such a way that they realize you have heard, understood and thought about it is one way (one social device) of making a new friend.

People get so used to being virtually ignored by others in a conversation that they treasure anyone who will take the time and effort to hear them and respond.

Of course, a friend is someone who will also listen, hear, consider and respond to what you have said. Not everyone will do that. But it's a good way to filter out those you don't want as friends if you are meeting new people with the objective of befriending some.

In any case, actually attending to what someone has said and repling accordingly is a form of respect. It's cheap and effective. It's a sign that you are a caring person, that you care about the speaker.

Bill Allin
Turning It Arounjd: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to clarify some social skills that every person should learn.
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