The Rising Art of Excessive Talking; And the Decline of Listening


Zealan Munsey

My dad may hear my mom, but he’s really just listening to Drake’s new album.

Zealan Munsey, Photographer

The typical human is born with two ears and one tongue. So why does it seem to be reversed?

Listening isn’t the same thing as hearing. For example, during a conversation with a friend, you may tell them something that happened over the weekend. They look like they’re listening to how you just perfected the kickflip on your skateboard, but the second you pause, they jump in and talk either about themselves and their tricks, or something completely unrelated. They can’t let you finish; it’s just something we don’t do.

Society has molded most of the population to subconsciously not actually listen but to wait for their turn to speak. They may hear you, but in reality, they are formulating what they want to say next. This is just a sample of how people’s mannerisms are out of tune and need to be mended.

Life is full of chatter. The brain has been wired to run at 100 mph to accommodate phones and other technological devices. We are thinking about ten things at once while doing ten different tasks. A person constantly needs to be entertained – the brain is fidgeting nonstop and needs something to entertain itself. This causes conversations not to be heart-to-heart discussions. It becomes a game of who can say more than others.

When something meaningful is said, we’re so caught up in everything else to take a deep breath and be in the moment. The brain, acting like it’s at the Indy 500, doesn’t allow us to truly listen but to jump at the next opportunity to talk about ourselves.

You may be reading this thinking, “Well, I listen. This isn’t about me!” No, this is about everyone. The truth is that you are not nearly as good of a listener as you think you are. We aren’t good at it, and we can’t help it. Why do you think we have therapists? Because we want someone to truly listen to us and give us insight. Therapists and psychologists are trained in a way that society, as a whole, simply cannot compare to.

Hearing without listening leads to bad advice, unnecessary arguments, and misunderstandings. A significant reason for a broken relationship is that people can’t listen.

One way to get better at listening is by putting down your devices. They don’t need that much attention. They cause you to spend less time with the people in your life and pay attention to what they’re saying to you. It makes your listening skills deteriorate, as you just want to get back on your phone or rush to a new activity.

Another way is to look at the person. You can space off if you are fidgeting or looking around, as your attention will be taken by whatever you spot.

When your friend’s talking to you, maybe just look them in the eye and take in the moment. Everything else can wait. You don’t need to rush – actually listen; don’t just hear.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
– Ferris Buehler.