Listen Up! Has Listening Become a Lost Art?

Did you know that there’s a singular breed of person so rare that when you spot her, you’ll immediately know you’ve found gold? Yeah. She is the holy grail of friends and as a friend to her, you must do everything in your power to acquire and keep said scarcity!

I’m not talking about unicorns. Or princesses. Or the super rare Unicorn Princess (that may have gone extinct years ago). I’m talking about listeners. Plain and simple. People who will listen to you –truly listen –and make you a better person because of it!

Here’s how to find and capture this rare woman-friend that you’ll go to the ends of the earth to find. Once you’ve captured this rare being, you can study her to learn her secrets and apply them to your own life. 

So how do you go about finding her? 

1. Grab your binoculars

2. Scan the horizon

3. Whittle out the irrelevant

4. Zone in on your target

5. Invite her over for coffee

Okay. So this is a bit safari sounding, at best. But these rare women are in our world today, even if you don’t believe it: Listeners who listen

I know. It sounds redundant. But finding people who really listen to you? That’s like finding water in the desert.  Not readily available, though you’re certain you’ve seen these women out there. Somewhere. Sure, these listeners also speak but when they do it’s one hundred percent intentional and helpful.

And if you actually listen to the listener (which is extremely hard to do since they’re usually listening) you’ll find they don’t drone on. They’re there to support, help, and encourage you! 

If they are talking, it’s very short lived. Like a psychiatrist, without the bill coming at the end of the session, they want to listen. It’s all about non-judgmental love and empathy.

She’s the one you go to when life is crumbling around you and you need someone to listen to you. And they are the ones you go to because no one else hears you and understands you the way she can.

So how do we become more like this? 

We know there aren’t enough listeners out there with the “me me me” of everything around us hammering us down into thinking that listening and selflessness is a thing of the past. 

Here’s a list of a few things I’ve noted in a listener so that we too can be more like her right now!

1. Listen: Super basic and super true. In order to truly listen you have to truly listen. This means keeping your mind from wandering (even when it wants to), redirecting the conversation into valid dialogue, focusing in on the issue at hand, and asking questions that show you’re fully invested into them and what they have to say. In other words, act like you care! Caring begets caring. And who doesn’t need that?

2. Be around listeners: Easiest way to become what you want to be is to hang around the people you yearn to emulate. The same is true for the reverse. (Bad influencers influence us for the worse). So be Mrs. Indiana Jones and seek out your treasure, find that listener friend and invest in her! Best way to be more like her is to hang out with her, watch her eating and shopping habits. (Okay, that last part isn’t necessary.) Watch her listen, and how she does that, and watch you become more like that. Talk to her. But for goodness sake, listen to her, too!

3. Watch Your Tongue:  Listeners are very careful in what they say. They’re not judgmental, but never to stay silent when something needs to be said.  They weigh their words carefully. Listeners are slow to speak and quick to listen! This is what makes them so special. And what makes them some of the most sought out friends and some of the only friends you’ll ever want.

4. Dig deeper:  Listeners are like shrinks. They have to listen to what’s being said but make note of what isn’t. And they ask questions about those areas that the speaker hasn’t spoken of. Usually, those are areas that the talker wants to bring up but hasn’t gotten around to, or doesn’t want to talk about. A good listener can read body language and read in between the lines, bringing out the issues at the heart of the matter.

5. Know when to talk but not to fix: We know the men in our lives want to fix our problems when really all we want is someone to listen to us! A listener has to be neutral, like a therapist, and listen without trying to resolve or fix anything. The listener supports without criticizing, speaks truth without condemning and loves you enough to know you just need to talk and drink wine and maybe cry a little without a fix!

While this list isn’t an answer to all, nor is every friendship/relationship the same, it can help us along into becoming better listeners. There may be a perfect 50/50 listening/talking balance between you and your favorite listener. Or maybe you talk for days more than you listen. That’s okay. (Lord knows hormones play a role in this, too.)

So, here’s another question for you: What does a listener want from you?

Probably to be listened to. Remember that and make her talk and draw her out when you talk to her. That will mean more to her than probably just about anything. People tend to give and be what they want to receive and have. 

And remember to watch what you say to your listener. You don’t want to overwhelm her with so much of your words that she kindly and politely refuses the next coffee date (and her excuse of “a doctor’s appointment” seems to be much too regular with you.)

The listener is a rare breed, but she thrives on listening and helping. And we can learn leaps and bounds from her because when we learn to listen, we will improve and create some of the best relationships we’ve ever had.