STFU and Listen!

Sometimes, I feel like I’m not being heard.
A few days ago, I was having a conversation with a friend that went something like this:
Friend: I totally disagree with everything the Invisible Children organization stands for – I mean, they only donate 31% of the money they receive! How can I support the Kony 2012 campaign if I don’t know where my money’s really going?!
Me: I don’t necessarily think the Kony 2012 campaign is –
Friend: – It’s a good viral campaign from a strategic campaign, sure, but c’mon! We can’t trust them! Unless 100% of the money goes to stopping Kony, no one should donate to them!
Me: Well, like I was saying, I think they’re more about awarene –
Friend: – And besides, the Obama administration is already helping them in a lot of ways.  I mean, he sent people to Uganda to assist their government in tracking down Kony! Also, I heard the Kony hasn’t even been in Uganda for six years! Why would they just dumb things down and lie to the public like that?!
Me: Maybe because –
Friend: The whole thing is a sham. Sure, Kony is a bad person but Invisible Children isn’t actually helping them by –
Actually, I lied. I didn’t yell (although I wish I did). I actually said, “I’m sorry, did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?” Perhaps not the most assertive way to get my point across but I already know she can talk faster than me so if I did get into a verbal altercation with her, I know I wouldn’t win. So I opted for the passive aggressive route.
Is it just me or do people just not listen anymore? Growing up, I was taught that having a conversation with people meant equal parts talking and listening. Most people have the talking part down pat but listening is a whole different matter.
You see this happening everywhere. Politicians never listen to each other, or if they do listen, they only look for things they can hurt each other with down the road. News organizations are always printing misleading information because they don’t listen. Why does this happen?
Maybe it’s our way of asserting our knowledge on a particular subject. Maybe we’re just really passionate about what we’re talking about. Maybe we’re just being forgetful. Whatever it is, it’s most likely just us being rude and narcissistic. It’s even worse if we’re interrupting others to get our two cents in.
I admit, I am just as guilty of talking too much as the next person, but I try to listen to what people are saying as well. I try to keep in mind that a conversation is a two way street – if I’m not willing to listen to what others are saying, no one will want to listen to me either. My friend that I had the Kony conversation with is a repeat offender of the talk-and-not-listen rule. I admit, I tune her out when she talks because I start to think, “What’s the point of me even listening? It’s not like she cares about my opinion, she just wants to hear herself speak!” Are you guilty of wanting to hear yourself speak like my friend? I know I am. Should you take a step back and realize people will ignore you if you continue to do this? Yes, definitely.
So the next time you’re having a conversation, take a moment in between to stop and really listen. After all, Ralph Nichols once said,
The most basic of all human needs is to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them
Wise words, sir. Wise words.

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