Over the past few months, in at least three different instances, I have had the experience of having my ears chewed out by people talking only about themselves and not taking a second to ask about what was going on in my life. And one of this was a person that I had not talked to in 20 years! Soooo very odd. I probably would not have noticed such non-conversations in the past, but with the recent efforts at mindfulness (not always a good thing, huh?), I could focus on nothing else! So. I started keeping a ear out on the direction of my conversations, and sure enough, with the same couple of folks, it seems like I have signed up to be the “receiver”. I am sought out whenever they need a second opinion on something in their life or a shoulder to cry on, yet I see them fading out when I start relaying something that’s of interest to me. Or getting ready to start their next topic rather than taking the time to respond to mine. Reminded me of an episode from Seinfeld where George and Elaine both want to talk about themselves and just don’t want to listen to the other (“Why are we talking about you? Let’s stay on me!”).
But I am no “put upon Percy”. I do have plenty of fun (two-way) conversations with plenty of people. Wondered briefly if I perhaps impose in the same way on other people – transmit thoughtlessly, as though me and my issues are all-consuming (really hope not!). Receiver sometimes, but wild transmitter otherwise. As you can tell, woke up early this morning, so had lots of free time for deep thoughts. Checked in with N over our morning masala chai to see what he thought, and he said “of course not, you are a thoughtful person and not self-absorbed like that at all”. But, he just might be a little biased, huh? 😉
Anyway. This pattern of unconditional listening is so going to be broken, I am telling you. Will be tough, I think, since I have clearly been enabling it all along by listening (and listening some more) and never pushing for my own air time. Will be an interesting experiment, for sure!
So. How about you? Are you a transmitter or a receiver? And, more importantly, have you ever paused to consider the difference?