Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

1/11/2006

Listen

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:01 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
–Ernest Hemingway

Or, as my mother used to tell me, “Interested people are interesting people.” I’ve been thinking about that lately, since I hope to be more social this year. And, since rumor has it that “social” activities involve actual people and could lead to actual dates where I’m only half of a conversation, instead of one sixteenth, this has been of great concern to me. I’ve never been good at small talk, but, as I hope some of my fellow bloggers are aware by now, I do ask fairly good questions. And, of course, I listen to the answers, well, too. That’s sort of hard to see on the Internet, of course, but, still, it is something that I work at improving constantly.
I genuinely like people, most people, in fact. I think even the most annoying person can have an interesting story to tell. How did they get that scar? What’s up with that crazy tattoo? Why do they hide from deep relationships? All these things can lead to a surprising story with open-ended possibilities. But, I have to ask the right questions. And listen.
The older I get the more I try to listen. More than that, though, I try to listen actively. Ask questions that keep the story flowing. Ask the questions that bring out new insights. If I’m lucky, sometimes, I can ask a question that brings out details and truths that no one else has heard before. I live for those moments. That kind of intimacy is what makes relationships, of all kinds.
Sometimes, though, I have to remember to listen with my heart, not my ears. Sometimes people need to feel that people care and “hear” them. I don’t know any deeper expression of care and love than to listen deeply to someone. To hear their heart in their words. Granted, I don’t do this as often as I would like, but, the times that I have done it, I have been keenly aware of the effects. Effects that run both ways. I’ve developed some of my best and deepest friendships this way. I only wish I’d understood this sooner.
Now, as most of my readers know, I rarely get this philosophical without a subtext. Today is no different. I’m going to be placing a phone call today to someone I don’t know. To someone I hope to know better. Someone interesting and beautiful and, frankly, terrifying. I don’t know where the conversation might lead or what I might either learn or reveal and that’s a little scary. Of course, that’s also why I’ll be doing it. When I get scared like that, it’s because I’m stepping outside my comfort zone. In this case, quite far outside my comfort zone. And, as always, that means growth. Frightening, painful, but, oh, so necessary growth. It’s been a long time since I put myself out there like this. Opening myself to that kind of personal intimacy, at least with a member of the opposite sex.
I hope I remember how. How to listen.

8 Comments

  1. Good luck!

    Comment by Orion — 1/11/2006 @ 6:40 am

  2. You’ll do fine. Just don’t over think it. Jump in and have fun!

    Comment by Alison — 1/11/2006 @ 9:31 am

  3. Yeah, I know, but I tend to freak out about this junk. It’s part of what makes me so adorable. Right?

    Comment by the Network Geek — 1/11/2006 @ 10:44 am

  4. Well, hopefully leaving a voice-mail and calling tonight after therapy makes me adorable, too, since that’s what’s happening.

    Comment by the Network Geek — 1/12/2006 @ 1:49 pm

  5. I hate small talk but it is unavoidable. stepping out of your comfort zone is a great thing.

    I tried to reply back to you about the book but kept getting the msg. knocked back. Thanks. I’m finding tylenol PM and a shot of brandy work wonders. Just kidding about the brandy.

    Comment by sass — 1/12/2006 @ 4:44 pm

  6. Hmm, I wonder how many e-mails haven’t been making it to me? And, worse, how many I’ve sent that never made it out, either! Did everyone get my Christmas and New Years’ Wishes? I assumed when I didn’t hear from some of my regular readers that I’d gotten bad e-mail addresses or they were busy or whatever, but now…

    Comment by the Network Geek — 1/12/2006 @ 4:55 pm

  7. That is such great insight. Just being aware that there is such a kind of listening makes you very special indeed. I hope you are a smashing success.

    Comment by Jill — 1/12/2006 @ 6:40 pm

  8. Sadly, fate conspired against me again. Damn fate! 😉
    I only wish I could impress ladies who were more single and closer to home. Alas, fate conspires against me there, too. I can’t decide if my life is tragic comedy or comedic tragedy. Perhaps it’s just poorly written.

    Comment by the Network Geek — 1/12/2006 @ 10:38 pm

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