You gotta learn to listen
Listen to learn
I recently heard a nationally-syndicated radio talk show host say that when he was on the air, either he was talking . . . or he was waiting to talk.
Which reminds me of an exchange between the Uma Thurman character (Mia Wallace) and the John Travolta character (Vincent Vega) in the movie Pulp Fiction:
Wallace/Thurman: “When in conversation, do you listen, or do you just wait to talk?”
Travolta/Vega: “I wait to talk . . . but I’m trying to listen.”
Good answer! If Vega’s answer had been that he listened, she would have known he was lying.
By admitting that he waited to talk, but going on to say that he was trying to learn how to listen, he struck the perfect balance between telling the truth and telling her what she wanted to hear.
Another blogger has written that when he is talking to a person who disagrees with him on a certain issue, he’s not really listening either, but just waiting to talk:
[W]hile she’s making her arguments, I have an inner monologue going on inside my mind:
“Wow, that’s a lot of arguments she’s making. Which one should I choose to respond to when she’s done? Should I ask another question or make an argument? When can I make MY argument? What did my wife ask me to get on the way home?”
That’s not listening. That’s waiting to talk.
He now tries to silence that “inner monologue” while discussing the issue:
When the [other] person is talking, I’m trying to just be present in the moment with her. I’m trying not to think about what I’m going to say next. I’m doing my best to think about what she’s saying, and track with her ideas as well as I can.
When she’s done, I will need to take a few beats, and just . . . process.
Some people feel awkward taking eight seconds to process what the other person just said, but I think it’s great! It shows this person that I’m taking her seriously. It shows that I’m taking her arguments seriously. . . .
Disciplining myself to listen to people is helping me to not interrupt them. That’s another bad habit I have. I have all these thoughts about the issue, and it doesn’t take long for someone to talk about [that issue] before I’m ready to jump in with my go-to talking points. Silencing my inner monologue and trying to love the person in front of me is helping me to interrupt less often. I need to care about hearing and understanding what she has to say more than I care about her hearing me.
That last sentence is where this writer loses me. I can’t honestly say that I ever care more about hearing what she has to say than I care about her hearing what I have to say.
But I’m going to take a page from Vincent Vega’s book and say that while I care more about her hearing what I have to say, I’m trying to care more about hearing what she has to say. That should work.
* * * * *
“Learn to Listen” was released in 1989 on Brain Drain, which was the Ramones’ eleventh studio album.
Brain Drain featured vocalist Joey Ramone, guitarist Johnny Ramone, bassist Dee Dee Ramone – all of whom were original members of the Ramones – plus drummer Marky Ramone, who had replaced the group’s original drummer, Tommy Ramone, in 1978.
Tommy Ramone (who was born Tamas Erdelyi in Budapest in 1949) appeared on the band’s first four albums, which are generally regarded as their four best albums. But I think of Marky Ramone (who was born Marc Steven Bell in 1956) as the Ramones’ drummer because he appeared with Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee in the classic 1979 movie, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.
Here’s “Learn to Listen”:
Click below to buy “Learn to Listen” from Amazon: