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Is listening really the key to communication?


I had someone continuously ask me questions one night at a party as if following a structure she was taught rather than being genuinely interested in me. She ‘listened’ to me the whole time, but I didn’t feel connected. It felt fake.

It’s Barbara Walters’ 85th birthday, and I just read something by her that describes what I couldn’t describe about how I felt that night. Thanks, Barbara. Happy Birthday.

I happen to disagree with the well-entrenched theory that the art of conversation is merely the art of being a good listener. Such advice invites people to be cynical with one another and full of fake; when a conversation becomes a monologue, poked along with tiny cattle-prod questions, it isn’t a conversation any more. It is a strained, manipulative game, tiring and perhaps even lonely. Maybe the person doing the talking enjoys himself at the time, but I suspect he’ll have uncomfortable afterthoughts about it; certainly his audience has had a cheerless time.

A conversation, even a brief one, should have all the best features of any functioning human relationships, and that means genuine interest on both sides, opportunity and respect for both to express themselves, and some dashes of tact and perception. Conversation can be such pleasure that it is criminal to exchange comments so stale that neither really listens.”

barbara

 

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