Does anyone really listen anymore? I ask that question following a parallel conversation with my wife.
We were both talking and supposedly listening to one another when it struck me that were were not paying much attention to what the other was saying.
There were two conversations going on, running in parallel. Parallel, as in, not touching, never crossing, always a distance apart. It appeared as if each of us was listening, not for content or meaning, but for opportunity to step into the conversation and continue our side for awhile.
Then, there’d be a pause in the conversation, and the other would step in and carry the conversation forward, except it was a different conversation on a different track.
In summary, we were carrying on multiple conversations at the same time, but hardly listening to what the other had to say.
That revelation caused me to listen more carefully to other conversations with friends and business associates. What I observed was a remarkable difference in conversational style between the sexes. Except for the fact that parallel conversations appeared to be the norm.
From what I could tell in my less-than-scientific research, women tend to carry more subjects into their conversations than men. Subsequently, conversations between women seemed to meander into and through many mini-conversations.
Men, however, seem to keep conversations to specific topics, and not move off said topics until some conclusion was reached.
So, who’s truly listening during our conversations with one another? Based on the number of times we say the same things over and over, and the number of simultaneous conversations going on, I conclude that we, men and women, don’t really listen much to what the other has to say.
That brings up the subject of topics, again, an area where men and women seem to differ. I don’t like talking about a sale at Macy’s or the quality of produce at Foodland or how so and so’s kid isn’t too well behaved.
Likewise, I’m sure my wife doesn’t care much about topics such as how my computer servers are running, or what kind of click-through rate my site’s advertising receives.
We engage in parallel conversations, running simultaneously, all while no one is really listening.
The next time that you and I have a chat, remind me of that.