I spoke to a friend early in the week, calling to clarify whether we were on for later in the week. We were.
Then he spoke, and spoke some more, in long paragraphs about what seemed to be either his lack of commitment or temptation to forsake a commitment. I could not tell which.
Then he flattered me, talking about my humor, my strength and intellect, and my bearing. He returned to his long paragraphs. Suddenly, "Do you think that's true, Walter?" after an assertion. I was distracted and didn't "get" the question.
Oh, I heard the question all right, but not the assertion. "You know, I don't know," I replied, casually. True enough, I didn't know. But I didn't have the integrity to admit why not. Perhaps - ha! "perhaps" - I didn't want to lose face; he is so sure I am a great listener … which I am generally sure of as well. Not at that moment, though. I didn't want him to know that.
I feared that his knowing I was distracted might send the wrong message. What you say doesn't keep me engaged. Or, I am not really interested enough to actually listen. And I wondered: Was I worrying about him and his feelings or was that a camouflaged excuse to spare my reputation as a good listener? And in whose eyes? Admitting to distraction would certainly have been an admission of failing to listen well in that moment.
My two servings of humble pie came in two corrections to my self-image: my listening is not as good as often as I think it is; neither is my integrity.
Shame on me! Truly. Fortunately I've had a recent opportunity to practice forgiving myself.
|If you would like to comment but don't care to use the comment field, send an email to email@example.com.|