By Jessica Gifford
Jessica grew up in southern rural Missouri. In adulthood she made the ‘big’ move to central rural Missouri – she has no memories where there weren’t at least two animals in her home and all of her earliest memories involve a pony. Jessica’s mother-in-law tells her that she had to love her husband more than the animals when we got married, to which Jessica and her betrothed Isaac simply rolled their eyes and laughed. Jessica works at Veterans United Home Loans as a pet-adoring Loan Specialist.
ANOTHER self help book? Really?
This genre seems to dominate our bookshelves and adult conversations. Why? What’s so great about them? They are dry, they are a book you have to read, not really what anyone really looks forward to reading. So why am I writing about a self-help book? Because this one makes sense and I really liked it. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as easy to get into as some other books, but totally worth it. It’s called, “You’re Not Listening” by Kate Murphy.
The premise of the book is pretty obvious; we don’t listen as a society. If you think about that just for a few moments I am sure that you will agree. We have a need to fill empty spaces. We struggle with people just being quiet and together. If someone struggles to find a word, we offer suggestions. If someone trails off a bit in a sentence, we try to finish it for them. We have to keep the conversation moving. Silence is uncomfortable.
My job is to be on the phone. Pretty much all day every day. Talking to people about their home buying needs and seeing what kind of loan we can help them out with. So I talk a lot, seriously so much talking. After reading this book, I started being more patient on the phone with my borrowers and leaving space for them to talk and they almost always did. They shared things that I never would have asked about but it was often relevant. The call is about them, not me. I immediately noticed more of a bond with these people, they were more likely to answer my texts and calls. The reason for the bond seems pretty obvious – because they had found someone to listen. I don’t think that they know it’s what happened at all; it just did.
My boss’s boss had a different view of the same calls. He saw too many blank spaces and I was told that I need to fill them. In my opinion, filling the silences with my voice didn’t help, it hindered. I don’t think he realizes that leaving these spaces is a conscious decision on my part. And, I’m not sure he realizes that it is helping. But this is another example of how we have taught ourselves, to fill that empty space, even when the empty space doesn’t belong to us. We do it with friends, family, coworkers, cashiers, everyone. How many times have you said something that you immediately thought you shouldn’t have? How often do you think it was because you were filling a space?
I tried on experiment on a friend of mine using the things I learned in this book. We went to lunch and after the initial short greeting, I just sat across from the table from her. I kept my body language open and kept my expression interested and she talked for about 30 minutes straight before I did anything more than nod. She had a lot to say. She needed someone to listen. We all have this desire to be heard but we are taught that you have to be the talker to be important. Often we tell children that they were given one mouth and two ears so they could listen twice as much as they talk. Yet, how often do we follow this principal ourselves? More than likely, not very often.
This is one of those things that I think most of us will need to work on for the rest of our lives in order to truly master it, but it’s an endeavor that I genuinely feel can make a great difference in our lives. It has already started making a difference in mine both personally and professionally. Even though it did take me a while to get through the book, I am really glad that I did. It may take some time but I encourage any and all of you to give it a shot. You may just learn some really great things.