Identify the reasons you don’t want to listen to people
- Think about the people you have a hard time listening to and ask yourself why?
Do you feel they are judging you? Do they exaggerate? Give too much detail? Are they too negative? Do they challenge your thinking? Disagree with you? Are they not socially or professionally useful to you? Are you afraid of the intimacy that might develop?
- Once you identify the reasons, examine them
Do your reasons for not wanting to listen to them say more about you than they do about the other person? Remember that people change, and your view of them can change, when you truly listen.
- Engage in conversation with someone and if you feel the urge to stop listening, try to identify why
For example, we often give up too soon or think we already know what someone will say. We also don’t enjoy listening to opposing viewpoints, or to criticism. We may be tired, hungry, etc.
- Prompt yourself to listen for five minutes more
If you think you know what the person will say, don’t understand what they are getting at, or don’t agree with the person, persevere with curiosity for five more minutes. If you are physically or mentally unable to continue, exit the conversation.
- Know your limits and set boundaries
There are some people who, whenever you listen to them, depress, diminish, or distress you – for your own wellbeing you may need to avoid these conversations. Alternately, you may realize that you simply don’t have the intellectual or emotional energy to listen at that moment. In that case, try again later. If you half-listen to someone they will pick up on it.
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