On my recent trip back home, I tell my mother I need to change doctors. She asks why. I tell her it’s because our doctor never finds anything wrong with me. She understands.
I go to a new doctor and it turns out something is wrong with me. I don’t like this doctor either. My mother and I feel bad for jinxing it. She says, I didn’t want anything to actually be wrong with you. And I didn’t either. I just wanted to feel heard. Which is all that most people want, really.
We think we want to be right, but what we really want is to be listened to.
People will argue that this is not true - because if they are not right, it means everyone else is right. I know this because I am one of those people. But there is an easy way to wear people like this out. It’s called listening.
We live in a very noisy world (literally and metaphorically) where we all shout over each other. The internet has birthed billions of conversations, creating multiple dimensions to the clamor of information. Sometimes noise is good. It precedes action where action is needed. But mostly it is just noise.
Have you ever noticed that the louder someone shouts in an argument, the less attention you pay them? It’s the same reason why nobody pays attention to car alarms anymore:
angry people and car alarms have no credibility. They are annoying and do not solve anything.
In a very loud world it is only natural we struggle to feel heard. We want to feel like we count for something, because life is hard and we associate hardship with meaning. We are all very important to ourselves, and do not understand when this importance is not recognized and given due respect. Because the doctor doesn’t care that you’re feeling unusually tired, she wants to finish your appointment so she can go home and have dinner with her kids.
Everyone you’re speaking to is trying to be heard. Someone in their life isn’t listening - their wife, their boss, their client, their doctor. Don’t be that person talking over others, proving yourself at their sake. Good listeners are like a good diagnosis: they produce clarity and are the first step to healing.