One of my biggest pet peeves is when people don’t listen to me when I’m talking. They’ll either interrupt me, stare off into space, or start talking to someone else while I’m still talking, leaving me hurt and unheard. They are basically telling me they don’t care about what I have to say.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to be a good listener. You never know if you’re the only person someone has to talk to or if someone is asking for help unless you listen to them. I get that sometimes it’s difficult to focus on what someone is saying, especially if they’re talking a lot or talking really fast. But that person is talking to you for a reason. They want you to hear what they have to say, and they’ll listen to what you have to say in return. Relationships are not one-sided — both people need to be heard equally.

By not listening to what someone is saying, you’re telling them that what they have to say doesn’t matter, and that you don’t really care about having a relationship with them. If you did care, you would value their words like they value yours.

It is impossible to express ourselves verbally when no one is listening. Speaking from experience, feeling unheard is the worst feeling in the world. My old friends never cared about what I had to say. They always led our conversations, and the conversation topic needed to be centered around them, too. As soon as I tried to talk about something related to my life, they would lose interest, and the conversation would die.

So how can you prevent yourself from being a bad listener? First, it’s important to make eye contact when someone is talking to you. I know this can be uncomfortable, but it shows the other person that you’re paying attention to them. Second, you should respond every now and then — but not interrupt — to further show that you’re listening and that you care. Lastly, if you have a story you want to tell that relates to what someone is saying, don’t start talking until the person finishes. Jumping in to talk about yourself without waiting for them to finish just shows that you’d rather talk about yourself than them. 

I hope that more people can value the act of listening attentively and positively responding to conversations. Amazing relationships can form when two people value each other’s words.

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