Hear ye, hear ye, people of Indianapolis Suburbia: I’ve been living a lie! For years I’ve been telling myself — and everyone else — that I am a great listener. That I can empathize with the best of the rest. That I’m the gal you want in the moment of emotional upheaval and/or breakdown. Wrong! According to a highly accurate online quiz, not only do I rank in the lower third quartile, but more than half the time, I break all the rules of good listening. In other words, I’m on par with my husband Doo who suffers from ADD and is hearing-impaired in one ear.
What I’m actually good at is tolerating the inane babble of strangers, particularly those I encounter in the Meijer check-out line, and showing just enough polite interest to get them talking about their impending plastic surgery or grandson’s wife No. 3. Even I won’t deny that I have a certain je ne sais quoi for making mere acquaintances feel comfortable enough to divulge the dark and highly amusing secrets of their lives. But this people-whispering ability is not good listening, and when it comes to friends and family, even it disappears.
To wit, I frequently interrupt my colleagues when they are sharing an idea. I almost always try to one-up Doo after he tells me about his cruddy day at work. And I usually begin planning my next trip abroad or check how many likes my latest Facebook photo has received as soon as my mom launches into a retelling of her latest retirement adventure. No empathy, no true listening.
I hear you, online quiz! And I vow to do better.