This is a plea to all the people out there who talk over others in conversations; who wait for their turn to speak instead of listening to what the other person is saying; who monopolise conversations…
I can confidently say that I am a good listener. I have a genuine interest in people which helps, and I enjoy hearing people’s stories, sharing in their joys and successes, supporting them during challenging times, debating serious issues in order to learn from and depart knowledge to the people I’m debating with. I love to laugh with people, get emotional with people, be vulnerable with certain people and have certain people feel they can be vulnerable with me.
Call me a narcissist but I also like it when people ask how I am, when people take an interest in what’s going on with me, when people remember something I said ages ago. See the thing is, conversations are about speaking to each other and sharing and exchanging thoughts, feelings, news and ideas. However, every now and then we come across those people; people who are unfamiliar with the concept of the exchange and instead talk ‘at’ people about themselves with no interest in input from others. These people are word terrorists. They throw word bombs at you. They are the verbal equivalent of a selfish lover who could care less about his partner’s pleasure because his focus is on, er, reaching his goal, then once he has, he rolls over, farts then falls asleep leaving his partner dissatisfied and frustrated.
Sure, we’ve all been guilty of this at one time or another, (um, word bombing, not being a selfish lover!) but I’m talking about people for whom this is a regular occurrence. People who are so self-absorbed that even when you’re standing in front of them with a bored expression on your face, glancing at your watch, holding a sign which reads ‘shut the f**k up!’ they still babble on, and on, and on…
As you may have guessed by this point, this kind of thing happens to me quite a lot. People have a couple of conversations with me, think ‘oh, that was nice, I feel much better now’ then decide that they liked it so much, they want that feeling over and over again. In short, they’re not interested in getting to know me, in exchanging news and ideas, in creating a real relationship, they just want to feel good. I become their conversational whore. And I don’t even get paid for it.
Here’s the problem. Aside from being bloody rude, it takes a lot out of the listener. Listening isn’t just about hearing words, it’s actually more active than we think. When we listen – truly listen – we hear what the person is saying and not saying; their inflections; the speed at which the person is speaking; the language they use and don’t use… A good listener’s brain is also constantly making connections between what this person may have said before; how what they are saying compares to the things the listener may have heard others say; things they know and don’t know about the person; their own opinions on the subject etc. It’s work in itself. Now imagine if, like me, you are an introvert.
See introverts appear quiet and shy but the truth is we’re deep thinkers and analysers. We take EVERYTHING on board whether we want to or not, and when we do interact with others, we give that interaction out all. Small talk is the enemy of the introvert, discussions about the political climate, and social justice, that’s right up our street. It may seem like we hate being around people but the truth is, our interactions are so intense that we just need time to recuperate. Being that deep is exhausting!
Regardless of your personality type, having a bunch of words thrown at you is overwhelming, invasive and boring. It’s the verbal equivalent of someone stepping in to your personal space. It also implies that you have nothing to offer other than to be on the receiving end of someone else’s selfish chatter. Your news, your ideas, your feelings, your thoughts… they mean nothing. Your sole purpose in this ‘relationship’ is to shut up and listen.
Well, I don’t know about you but I’m done listening to these people, they rarely talk about anything of interest anyway. I mean really, how many times can one listen to how desperate someone is for a man; the ins and outs of someone’s boring job; a person’s diet; their exercise routine; their fashion ‘problems’ and other one-dimensional, mind-numbingly boring pieces of information that will not deepen the ‘relationship’ in any way?
The next time I’m approached by a word terrorist I’ll invoke the FBII: Far too Boring, I’m not Interested. I’ll politely excuse myself, interrupt them in the way they interrupt me or politely point out their behaviour. Either way, I’m nobody’s whore anymore!