The Art of Listening – Part Two

group frustrationI live with teenagers, this means that I am used to being ignored, have eyes rolled at me and generally repeating myself. (I only repeat myself once and add the “Mom” look so they know they are not listening and I am not happy.) This comes with the territory with two teenage boys. But I have learned some very valuable lessons on how to combat people NOT listening outside my home.

I addressed if you were a bad listener in an earlier blog, but what if you are on the receiving end of this? How do you politely tell someone to please, for the love of all things cute and fuzzy, please shut up? Not an easy task. But hopefully these little ideas that I have employed will help others.

And no, you really should not tell someone to shut up, it is pretty rude. And remember, Mom always said, “two wrongs don’t make a right”. My mother actually did say that a lot! A lot, so much so my son cringes every time the words “two wrongs” come out of my mouth!

If you find yourself in a conversation and the other person is constantly interrupting and obviously not listening, first simply stop talking. They might eventually notice that the only sound in the room is their voice going on and on and on… Some times it is just enough of gentle hint.

If that does not work, when they interrupt you again, simply smile sweetly and respond, “Oh I am sorry, I did not realize you were not done speaking, how rude of me to interrupt – please continue”. Subtle and can be effective.

Still no luck? Ok, then the next time they interrupt and they have asked you a question, simply look confused and again in a sweet tone with a smile reply, “Oh I am sorry, I thought when you asked me that question you were asking for my input, I did not realize it was a statement rather than a question, how rude of me, please continue.” The next time they ask you a question before you answer sweetly ask, “Would you like me to respond to that?”

Not getting through to them yet? You may even need to stop them when they interrupt you again and look them in the eyes and sweetly as you can at this point say, “I would really like to respond to this. When you have been speaking I have been respectful and listened to you and I am asking that you let me finish my thought uninterrupted. Then I would really appreciate your input.”

You will notice that I emphasized sweetly in each scenario, there is a reason. To be snotty or mean will simply not get your point across. And it goes back to the “two wrongs…” People can be rude there is no doubt about that. Try the smaller steps to gently remind them of manners. If it does not work, then as long as you are polite, respectful and yes, sweet, you can ask them to let you speak. It will also carry much more weight if you are a respectful listener to those around you. Do not be a “do as I say not as I do” – sorry, had to add one more terrible childhood quote.

Lisa K McDonald

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