How often have you had the experience that you share something that really inspires you, something that you KNOW for sure has a germ of genius in it, and you get that reaction of “Mmmm…..sounds a bit (like)…….” from the other person?
Such a reaction (and it is a reaction rather than a response) can make you wish that you hadn’t bothered. It can also take the buzz out of your own enthusiasm.
What’s happening here is that the other person is not actually listening to what you are saying. I mean they would probably swear blind that they are listening, but what they are actually doing is bringing their past to the idea that you shared. Rather than allowing the idea to just BE, to just exist in its’ own space as it were, they are bringing their own identity and past to your sharing. You can really get an idea of where people are coming from in such moments. Do they actually KNOW how to listen or not? You’ll find that there are actually very few that do know how to give a new idea or possibility the space to exist. They will want to bring their prejudices and impose them IMMEDIATELY before the idea has had time to just hang in the air for a few seconds.
In Japan they have a tendency to leave a pause between exchanges to give themselves time to reflect before responding. I can’t help thinking that this custom must have originated through Buddhist principles. Whether that is true or not, perhaps we could learn something from this way of responding.
In any case, if you aspire to be a listener, next time someone shares something with you that they believe in, try getting out of your own way and just let the idea exist, especially if it’s something you haven’t heard before.
I’m not suggesting that we don’t think critically. That can come later of course. But when the share comes don’t jump in with your reaction, even if you think you might sound very clever and well-informed by doing so. The spirit of sharing is to give the other person a chance. If they’ve taken the trouble to tell you their great possibility or plan, it means something and that fact alone makes it worth giving them a chance.
What we all need to do sometimes is get out of our own way by leaving our identity (which is effectively our past) out of things altogether and allow the possibility of something new.