If you reflect on who the friends are that you have, that you feel most close to, I bet that they are people who listen well. And that just tends to be the case because we feel more connected to people who really listen to us, but what do you do when you have a friend who doesn’t?
I have a friend who was complaining to me about someone in her life who didn’t listen well at all, and my friend was determined to tell her friend, who we will call ‘Ellen’, what a lousy listener she was, and she was trying to get my opinion, and I said, “I’m not sure that telling someone they don’t listen very well works, because the very thing you’re complaining about would prevent them from listening to the complaint.” She did it anyway and it had predictable results. She called me back and said that ‘Ellen’ didn’t listen to a word she said.
So, what do you do with a person, or people in your life, who don’t listen well?
I have three suggestions.
Number one, consider the talents that they do have. Obviously, they’re in your life for some reason other than the fact that they’re a bad listener, and hopefully, you have other good listeners in your life.
Second, avoid criticizing that person. I’m reminded of Dale Carnegie’s first principle of his ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ which is to never criticize, condemn, or complain. Most people do not like to hear that they’re doing something wrong, and usually don’t think that they are.
And finally, you can always model good listening for that person. As a little adjunct to that third tip, if they do listen well at a certain point, you can compliment them for that and give them positive feedback for the times that they do.
I hope these suggestions help you connect better with the bad listeners in your life.