Yesterday I meandered over to Carol’s blogging back step where she revealed she just visited Cee’s back step. Some of you may know that Cee invites us to answer blogging questions.
These help our readers know us better.
Perhaps they even help us know ourselves better.
How would you answer the question “Are you a listener or talker?”
Would you say, “Both”? (That’s always my standard answer. We’re both listeners and talkers in different scenarios in our lives. With Person A we might talk a blue streak. With Person B we listen endlessly without interjecting.)
Yet, truly, we’re often more inclined more one way or another. Which way is your default position?
Mine, even though you readers might not believe it, is a listener.
It seems like I’ve listened to others for half a lifetime. Listened to dreams, desires, ambitions, regrets. Listened to wonderings and figuring outs. Listened at times so deeply that the boundary between “you” and “me” dissolved and it was just one open heart beating, listening, sharing.
I’ve listened through a thousand lunches, OK, maybe a hundred. Listened through a thousand phone calls, maybe a million. Listened to you, and you, and you, and even you, the little mouse who hardly said two words to anyone else. Listened to people who never talked much before, with whom no one ever invited sharing.
Once I listened to a spiritual seeker talk for five straight hours. She covered birth to adulthood. She talked soooo long. I actually had trouble listening after the first couple of hours, but persevered. Later she called to say, “I have never felt so heard, so loved, in my entire life.” (I swear the Universe simply used my body to listen to her. That’s where the love came from.)
The listening so often feels like a gift because it teaches me so much. It teaches me about the heart of another being, the fascination of another human.
Something in me goes totally silent (well, sometimes) when you talk. In those moments I live you as you share. There is no “me” left. Simply you. Sometimes it takes a good half hour to shake off the listening and to re-enter my own body.
What’s been fascinating about blogging is that–for once–I have a platform to talk. To yak. To say whatever. To say EVERYTHING! To even talk about meeeeeee!
It’s taken back some people who only know me as the listener. They can’t seem to reconcile the *me that talks about her own life* with the *me who is a listener*.
OK, maybe it’s not the other person who is startled. Perhaps it’s me. Perhaps I’ve startled myself finding my own voice so definitively after all these years.
Synchronistically, I just heard this song. (And I am NOT usually a country music fan…not YouYouUsually….)
Back to my original premise. I think we’re both listeners and talkers. In Book Club (or after a glass of wine) I’ve been known to talk, talk, talk about whatever, whatever, whatever.
What about you? Are you a default talker or listener? Can you pinpoint some relationships where you listen more? Where you share more?
Like you I am a listener (which explains why my ears are disproportionately bigger than they should be and I keep them hidden most of the time). I too find my blog is my voice. I enjoy “listening” to you as you talk in your posts–you are real, but also imaginative–and I know you are a good listener–I wonder what would happen if two listeners got together?
It might get awful quiet, LouAnn! 🙂
but it would be companionable silence!
I would say both, although lately I lean more toward talker. I don’t want to be the talker, I want to be the listener. Or a 50/50 split. That’s part of the reason I love visiting hear so much, I love to listen to you, and yet somehow I feel heard at the same time.
That is so kind, Lisa! What a very sweet thing to say.
My first answer is to say I do both talking and listening, depending on the situation. But upon further thought, I would say listening is my comfort zone. Although, here on your blog I catch myself talking in response to your thoughts and questions. It’s been quite a learning experience—thank you! ♥
Brenda, I think it’s a learning experience for all of us! Glad that we can think about this together…
I am glad too 🙂
My cats and I listen, quietly to the silence and the storms,
the raindrops and the whispers.
How very beautiful, Fountainpen. I hardly dared type this reply because I didn’t want to disturb the beauty of that silence, although did one of the cats meow?
I recently visited my parents and my brother. He is currently talking endlessly and won’t listen to anyone. He is terrified of silence but cannot live with the noise. I identify with this. I want to listen, want to forget my “self-obsession” and soar to the next level of human evolution. And yet, sometimes my incessant talking calms people, takes the pressure off, distracts them from their own self-obsession. Sometimes I am the “but” in “but for the grace of God” and I am okay with this. So yes, I am both a listener and a talker and I don’t have anywhere to rest my head. Thank you for this post, it was exactly what was needed today.
Oh little story blog, your words are endearing. “But for the grace of God” go so many of us…perhaps all of us, talkers and listeners both.
LOL First think I thought of was Toby’s song when I was the title of your post. Yep, it’s usually about the gals in my life. Though I do get a word in once in awhile about me. 🙂
Scott, glad to hear you can get a word in edgewise. Every once in a while I can get a word in between Barry’s stories, too. *grin*
I was just about to rush off and not listen to you Kathy, thinking you were answering all of Cee’s questions, and not wanting to be influenced by you before I answer them myself, I almost stopped listening! Whew, lucky I stuck around, you only answered one of Cee’s questions anyway, and being the great default listener that I am, I couldn’t be rude and rush off now, could I? 🙂
Joanne, thank goodness you listened and didn’t rush off to avoid undue influence in the realm of talking/listening! Can’t ever imagine you being rude…
Listen a lot (to worries, troubles, confidences) in the bookstore, where I sometimes feel like a bartender for that reason. Listen, often unhappily, in large groups, where I feel ill at ease. Talk more than I used to in groups, to groups, to strangers, no longer shy at public speaking but recognizing that many people do feel shy and need to be drawn out. Which inclination predominates depends on the other or others present.
On my blog, yak, yak, yak, yak!!! Yep, that’s my outlet, Kathy — we have that in common, for sure.
One comfort I learned with my old dog and try to share with my new dog is companionable silence. We are together, we both know it, and that’s enough.
Pamela, I can imagine you in the bookstore “bartender” role. As for large groups–especially spiritual groups–I tend to become absolutely mute, too shy to add six words. It’s good that some of us empathetic listeners have the blogging outlet.
Great question, Kathy! I’m definitely more of a listener. I’m not inclined to talk a lot–unless it’s in writing. Fun to think about the implications of all that, isn’t it? Happy listening to you!
Kathy, am wondering if one of the reasons many of become writers is because we’re not as naturally inclined to communicate verbally? Just a thought…
I used to always be a listener, and then I became a teacher. And now I am much more balanced, listening when I am called to listen, and talking when I am called to talk. There are certainly relationships where there is more of one role than another, though.
Despite your bloggly chattiness, I am not at all surprised you’re a listener. You are very introspective, and it’s hard to be that way if you’re fighting with your own voice 😉
Heather, now I’m wondering whether we were even back-and-forth talkers and listeners when we were together. I think we were. I like your idea of balance. Maybe it all evens out in the end.
Great subject, Kathy, and so well put. I would say I do both proportionately as needed. In order to have conversation there has to be listening AND talking but one thing is for sure, you can do both at the same time!
Well, that’s for sure, Patty. “Proportionally as needed” sounds like a good way to be. 🙂
Thank you for the mention, Kathy! It was (is) a difficult question to answer, because it depends on the circumstances – like so many things in life. I have suspected you would be an amazing listener, by listening to you.
Thank you, Carol. I am glad that you answered this questionable question and inspired me to do the same!
Interesting thought. I really am more of a listener, though some people close to me would argue. I do talk and entertain in certain situations, but I am a listener when it is needed. On the other side, the older I get the more I notice the imbalance with certain family members. They want me to continue to be the listener while they rattle on never giving me a chance to speak. The older I get the more demanding I am becoming of them to listen to me, especially my husband. And, lately I notice how people are quick to disconnect with the person in front of them (me) while connecting to those on their smart phone. But that is another subject. Perhaps we could visit on that another day. Maybe that will be a subject I take up.. Thanks for the idea.
Oh, yes, Lucinda, we could talk & talk about that subject of Smart phones and texting and not really being present with the person in front of us. Sometimes I wish certain people, certain family members, would ask more about what’s going on in my life, be genuinely interested. However other family members more than make up for it! Guess, as always, it’s a balance. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I am an extreme listener Kathy who has at times made a living listening to others both as a counsellor and as a leadership coach. When I was younger I used to think I was a talker and was called “squirrel” and “chatter-box” by my father because he thought I talked so much. This struck with me until I was in my late twenties and had to do some recordings of conversations. I discovered I said very little. What I did say was to clarify, support and encourage my talker to keep talking.
But I do take on the role of talker when I am excited about something, have a story to tell – if I have a good listener, otherwise I don’t bother. I find I have plenty of these on my work-in-progress painting and photography and just plain life blog.
The beauty of the blog is I have all the time I need to organize my thoughts before speaking… Just the right amount of time, much more time than is usually available in a face-to-face conversations where my attempts are competing with what another person is wanting to say 🙂
Terrill, thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading about your take on this in your own life. You make a good point about how one can organize what one wants to say in blogging. We have the center stage–at least for a short while!
This is a loaded question for me. But, first, let me address Kathy the listener. Even though it seems like you’re a “talker” because you blog, I always sensed through your words, your “online body language” that you’ve mostly been a listener. Now, onto me, me, me. Hee, hee. When I was young, all I did was talk. As I grew older, I started realizing the value in listening. Now, I’d say I’m both, except, I do sometimes have a tendency to lean toward my propensity to talk. I try to catch myself when this happens and remind myself to hush and listen. As a writer, listening is quite important. It helps with coming up with scenes and characteristics of characters.
It’s strange that you wrote this (as usual, we’re in sync), because I’ve been thinking about trying an experiment in listening. Don’t know if I could do it, but I’d like to go a week with only saying a word here, or a word there, and mostly just listening. I will definitely have to do that some time in my future. Once again, you’ve shared a lovely blog post.
How fun that we are in sync again, Lori. Did you read that book–can’t recall the name–about the lady who quit speaking every Monday for years? She grew to love her Mondays and it taught her so much about listening and being present without words. It would be so interesting what you would learn in a week of silence. Seems like it could be really challenging–but intriguing.
Kathy – I agree with your assessment that we’re all both listeners AND talkers. But my default position is lister (Len would laugh ’til he cried if he read this). Let me quality my position:
With what I do for a living, I practice the ancient art of Satsang — sacred listening.
However, when I’m with friends and family, it’s as if someone put a nickel in the slot and wound me up 🙂
Oh that’s so interesting, Laurie! I like the term “sacred listening”. Barry may totally disagree, but when we’re alone he’s mostly the talker these days. However, when we’re out in public I usually talk more than he does. Then people will say he’s quiet and I laugh and laugh to myself.
Sometimes very much the talker, sometimes very much the listener. As you say, it depends on with whom. With you, I listen deeply 🙂 But also talk, as you know.
Nicole, how good that you commented! I actually thought this morning about you and thought “I think I talk more than Nicole on our Skype conversations.” So it’s possible to get me going… Be sure to interrupt if you ever want to talk more about you, you, you.
I never want to talk more about me, me, me when I am with you, you, you, Kathy. 🙂 However, in my “active” mode, I am usually the talker. In my
“quiet” mode, I am usually the listener.
Neither, I seldom talk that much, but I have a very difficult time listening to idle chit-chat of others. I suppose that’s why my blogging name fits so well. 😉
That doesn’t surprise me, quietsolopursuits. Do you like deep conversation with others?
Thanks so much for chiming in on the conversation. I loved what you had to say!!
I am glad you enjoyed this, Cee. Thank you for your valuable contribution to the blogging community.
I feel very much the same way. I did notice though that when my last marriage was falling apart and I couldn’t say ANYTHING at home I found myself running off at the mouth anytime I was in adult conversation away from home. I think we all need to talk about ourselves sometimes. I agree that the blog is a good forum for that. I find it very challenging sometimes. As a default listener I really appreciate having that input to starting a conversation.
Lisa, that must have been so hard when you felt you couldn’t say anything in your marriage. What is a marriage anyway if it isn’t a dance of talking and listening to one another? Really appreciating what you said about sometimes needing input to start a conversation. That can be so helpful!
I am a listener. Most of the times. I have been in situations where people have told me that they do think of me & call me when they need a listening ear. I cannot talk too much, it drains me out. Perhaps, I do not like to put my thoughts or my topics over others – they may get bored! Hence, less of blogging too. I love listening to people, understanding them, analyzing why they say what they say and so on. I love reading more than writing, therefore.
Maybe we all need to get bored listening to what you have to say, Sonali! *grin* It sounds like you have probably developed deep insights about people. Perhaps some of us are meant to be more listeners than talkers, as well as the other way around.
What is this? You are responding to replies again but I have no idea when you returned to “talking.” An answer for your question. I listen more than I talk.
Yvonne, you noticed that I was responding again! Yes, I have been doing that with certain blog posts for the past few weeks. Only certain posts. That way I don’t feel obligated and people never know when “Chatty Kathy” will suddenly reappear. Thank you for commenting, dear listener.
I am more of a listener. I seem to be the person people turn to to have a good moan, but I am happy to sit back and listen, I have never been a chatty person.
As long as you don’t become too depressed when people moan to you, me2013. As long as you have outlets–like your blog–to share what you’re thinking and feeling. Thank goodness the Universe is made of both types of us!
I’m pretty much a talker; but I can sit and listen for a long time (have to work on HEARING when I do that, not just listening). Love Toby Keith and know the song by heart.
Janet, whenever I hear that song I have to “grin”. Hey, isn’t that a line in it? Usually I hear it when cruising the *very few* radio stations we have here in the woods. Perhaps all of us need to keep working on that “hearing” aspect of listening… Thank you!
Listening is an art and much as I want to be a good listener, I’m afraid I talk too much. I may be a frustrated teacher. Anyway, my motto is “neither a listener nor a talker be. Everything in moderation.” Or did someone else say this? I love it that you sound off in your blog posts Kathy. I’m listening. 🙂
I like that you’re aiming for moderation, dor. So am I! It always seems like the best philosophy. (Although sometimes hard to achieve.)
I didn’t have a chance to get to this blog until now but I bet you knew you’d get me here with this title.
I will admit that I am one of those that talks a “blue streak” and I know that. Thankfully, I don’t think I am the 5 hr one you describe on your blog. I know we’ve had some nicely long conversations but I don’t think any have gone on that long !!
And my heart will say to my intentions, when I am going to spend some time on the telephone (a rare luxury for me) that “this time I am going to listen more than I talk” but I believe that rarely does it happen. I am truly perplexed at that.
Some of those heart-based friends (there are a handful that, like you, mean so very much to me personally, and yet we’ve never met) seem to have a talent for drawing me out deeply and you are one of those.
In my weekly Life Visioning (cd guidance from Rev Michael Bernard Beckwith) it so often “comes up” that I need to develop better listening skills, so it is not that I am one of those who is unconscious about this tendency. Which makes expressing that all the more perplexing !!
I do “work” at listening better though. I keep my mouth shut intentionally more often now. I allow the speaker to finish more often now, before intruding with that thought that has popped urgently in wanting to express itself in RESPONSE.
It is a work in progress. You are so very correct about this – your ability to listen is YOUR gift to Life. Maybe it is that ability to live as the one you are listening to that draws them “out” in response. Thank you for always being so sweetly patient with my effort to talk less.
I recognizing that bringing those torrents out from us “your conversational partners” may be as much for you, as much as we are feeling that it is for us; but I do only wish YOU talked more readily !! And now I know a bit more about why BLOGGING means so very much to you. That is when YOU talk to us and I am so grateful that you do.
I am smiling, Deb. NO~~you are NOT the one who talked for five hours! Nowhere near that… We have had some long conversations where I listened more than talked but, you know what, I didn’t feel neglected. You always thoughtfully invited me to speak. It’s just that, usually, I feel more comfortable listening unless something REALLY begs to be spoken. Loved reading about your intentions and life visioning here. And also glad you really understand why blogging has meant so much. You truly get it. Love you!
Perfect song for your post!
I’m pretty shy and I much prefer to listen than to talk, but with my job I’m increasingly expected to play the role of the speaker. I find every opportunity to teach with my mouth shut. 🙂
Lunar, what a visual. I am trying to imagine how one would teach with one’s mouth shut. What a concept!
It’s a concept I didn’t create. There’s actually a wonderful book with the title by Donald Finkle. It’s a radical idea and one that works well with my teacher’s heart.
As a teacher, I was forced into talk, talk, talking more than I would have wanted, but I also tuned into the kids by listening (even when they thought I wasn’t). My natural proclivity is neither to talk nor to listen. I’m usually wallowing in my thoughts up there in my own head. Some people have dubbed me “spacey.”
As for you, you, you, Kathy, I can tell that you are a listener even as you write. Your work often reflects your insights and impressions, which can only be perceived when we are silent. ❤
Ahh, yes, Stacy, those wallowing thoughts! Gosh, I’ve been there, too. Especially when I used to be so insecure. Then I had to PLAN what to say next. I still think it would be fun to have a conversation with you AND keep our purses off the floor. lol.
I think that would be fun, Kathy. Forget the purses – let’s put them in the closet and have coffee at home. ❤
I am an appalling listener. Not something I’m proud of. I am trying to listen better. Part of my problem is I am busy rehearsing in my head what brilliant thing I am going to respond with coz as we all know … “It’s all about ME”. 😉
OH Sybil. You are too a good listener. At the very least, you always *get* the most important points somewhere between the distractions and what’s going on in your head as you rehearse a response.
Sybil, I just wrote in a comment to Stacy that I used to do this all the time. I used to be so insecure that I had to keep rehearsing and figuring out what to say next. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen too much anymore, although maybe sometimes. I LOVED what Amy Lynn responded to what you shared. That shows that your love for your friends shines out between the internal dress rehearsals.
Kathy, I know you listen with the ear of your heart. That’s why others feel so *received* by your listening.
I talk more now than I used to, which is good in some ways but I hope it hasn’t impaired my listening. I wonder if strength in the one always has to come at the expense of the other.
Amy-Lynn, gosh, I never thought about that–that the strength of one comes at the expense of the other. Let’s hope not! I think of it more like a dance. Little gives and takes, a step forward, a step backward, some listening here, some talking there, hey, isn’t this fun? 🙂
I go back and forth between the two now. Listening used to be my default setting, but as I’ve grown older, I seem to have found my voice (blogging probably helped with that) and I talk more, but I still enjoy a good listen. 🙂
Robin, I suspect we might be the same on this. Do you ever find out that you do something like blog that you’re a listener, and then realize how incomplete that is, and want to write a blog the next day that you’re a talker? That’s what I want to do after almost every blog. Would love to meet with you and talk and listen and eat!!
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