So I went to church yesterday for the first time in a long time (oops). And of course I was bombarded with the same questions again and again: “how’ve you been? So what have you been up to?” which I didn’t mind at all; legitimate questions.
So I responded and we exchanged a few words, smiles— you know usual chit chat. But then there were these other conservations. Conversations where I felt like I was just talking to myself, which I’m sure a lot of people have experienced before. You’re talking and you notice the other person’s not really paying attention to you; they lost eye contact, you catch them looking around, reacting to things going on around them. And it makes you feel bad; you don’t want to finish your sentence anymore because you realize that they’re not even listening. And then you think to yourself, why did they even bother?
I think listening is a skill that everyone needs to work on. I know at times, I suck at listening too. I wonder how many times I’ve been caught, not paying attention and losing eye contact with people; lost interest in what they were telling me. And how bad they must have felt when they realized that I wasn’t paying attention to them. That I only talked to them.. to talk. It makes me sad to think that I’ve had empty conversations with people. That I’ve asked people questions without the intent of actually wanting to know; that I didn’t actually care.
Not many people are a fan of small-talk but it can have a big impact on your relationships with others. That’s how relationships start anyway right? You introduce yourself, they introduce themselves. You ask about where they’re from, what they do, their interests, etc. nothing too exciting. But those few minutes of verbal exchange with a person have more of an impact than you think. It gives you a chance to connect with people; you give off an impression that they’ll most likely always remember. It gives people an opportunity to figure out how genuine of a person you really are because listening is an act of love. You don’t have to be great at chit chat; I mean, I know I suck at it. But you can be a good listener. You can give them your undivided attention when they’re speaking; you respond when they ask you a question and hopefully you actually mean what you say. Just focus on that person and really hear what they’re sharing with you.