Monday, November 11, 2019

How do I listen to someone who RAMBLES?

Thanks to my amazing mom, Judy, for suggesting this topic.  This is especially on-point given the holiday season coming up.  Think of those various parties and family gatherings.

Sometimes we have great "conversational chemistry" with someone where the topics flow easily and turn-taking is natural because you are truly curious and interested in each other, and probably share similar values and views.

BUT....what about when our values and views and level of depth to our interest on a topic differ?

Here are some suggestions to consider when you have that "trapped" feeling of trying to listen to someone who can't seem to pause for a breath, or give any space for a question, or turn-taking:
Really listen with curiosity and interest if you can, it can be such a gift to listen attentively to someone who is passionate about their topic, and perhaps they rarely get the chance to share this with someone who cares  (even if you can't relate or don't agree with their perspective - politics, religion, values make this much harder!)  Notice your attention, if you find that you are pretending to listen this is defeating the experience for both of you.  If you are truly tuning out, feeling frustrated, or just needing a change of scenery from this discussion, you may want to try need to consider some of these next suggestions.
Ask a closed-ended question when you have the opportunity to jump in (this will result in yes, no, or a factual answer) "Which sport will your daughter play, soccer or lacrosse?"  or, "Have you made a decision what to do about this?" This can often bring the topic to a close.
Make a physical gesture to interrupt politely - I often raise a hand (or two) if I really need to say something (pardon me but I need to use the rest-room, I need to check-in with my partner etc)
Be clear with your time-limits
Let them know that this might be more detail than you can absorb
Engage the speaker with compassionate feedback, especially if the rambler has trouble with turn-taking and listening to you when you are sharing

Any and all of these are better than rejecting, avoiding, or fake-listening to a person.
Please share your ideas, stories and challenges.  I admit this one is so hard for me!

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