This post is part of ThinkKit by SmallBox.
January 6, 2016 prompt: “Hear, Hear: Do you hear what I hear? Tell us about a sound. What do you hear in your house or at work?”
Are You Listening—Really Listening?
Before I opened the door to the women’s locker room on my ward at work, I heard the toilet flushing. I hoped no one was in my favorite stall. I was in luck, my stall was free. Passing the other stalls, I noted absently all the doors were wide open except one—it was slightly ajar. I kept my eyes focused ahead as I passed it. And the toilet flushed again. And again. And yet again. Then I realized it was filling and flushing, filling and flushing, filling and flushing…impatiently filling and flushing…
What a great analogy for one of my pet peeves—being interrupted.
It is my observation, that we tend to be anticipating (filling) answers even as we are concurrently forming (flushing) the next question—rather than actually listening to the answer to our previous question. Frequently, this leads to frustrations, false assumptions, and miscommunication. We are so impatient to get on with the task at hand, we aren’t aware of what we are doing, or in this case—not doing—listening.
In my life, the place not listening occurs most frequently is the fast food drive-thru.
When I go through the drive-thru, I usually know what I want and I attempt to give a concise order: “I’d like a number 4, with everything except onions, add mustard and mayo, small fries, and a large Diet Dr Pepper. That’s all. Thank you.” And I’m done. They know what I want, how I want it, and neither of us has wasted time.
Except, no sooner have I said, “number 4” and they are interrupting me, asking a barrage of questions—that, had they listened to me, they would already know the answers to, “do you want everything on that?”
“Everything except onions, add mustard and mayo.”
“What about fries?”
“Yes please—small fries.”
“Small fries, and a large Diet Dr Pepper.”
“Do you want to upsize the fries as well?”
“No thank you. I want small fries and a large Diet Dr Pepper.”
“Okay. What do you want to drink?”“A large Diet Dr Pepper.”
“Okay, large Dr Pepper.”
“No….That’s a large Diet Dr Pepper.”
"Would you like anything else?”
“No thank you.”
“How about a pie, cookies, or some ice cream?”
“No thank you."
“Okay, that’s a number 4, with everything, except onions, add mustard and mayo, small fries, and a large Diet Dr Pepper.”
“Will there be anything else?”
“No thank you.”
And invariably when they hand my order to me they say, “Here’s your Coke.”
I live in the south where we call all carbonated beverages “Coke,” no matter which drink it really is. However, I have learned by trial and error to question what is actually in the cup. Too often not only is it not Diet Dr Pepper, it is frequently not even of the Dr Pepper family—many times it is in fact Coke.
I thought I would be leaving this as my post today. However, when I examined my own life, I find myself becoming impatient and rushing through the questions I ask—impatiently moving on to my next question in an effort to rush through the task at hand and rush to complete the next task. So the real title of my post should actually be, “Am I Listening—Really Listening?”
My challenge to myself is to slow down…and listen…really listen.
To accomplish that I’ll have to stop assuming I know the answer. I’ll have to stop racing ahead to the next question. I’ll need to take in the information offered, and evaluate it before I jump to conclusions. I’ll have to take my time.
In other words, I need to avoid filing and flushing, filling and flushing, filling and flushing, filling and….
I need to avoid being an impatient toilet.