Thursday, September 11, 2008
Listen up, Buster!!
"I'm a good listener."
You hear this all the time. I've said it on many occasions, you've probably uttered the same words yourself. We all like to think that when our coworkers are rambling on about how their recent visit to the oral surgeon went, and "Oh my I've never felt such pain in my uvula before!" that we are doing more than watching their lips flap in the wind while actually thinking about our cats. Or dogs. Or that we shouldn't have eaten that burrito for lunch.
Yesterday I realized something.
We are liars. We don't listen.
Sure, when it's something juicy, like how Marjorie from accounting was caught having "kinky relations involving jell-o" with Barney the janitor in the boss's office, well then we are all ears, baby. Try and stop me from perking my radar up when Judy in human resources accidentally lets it slip that the donut budget has been cut and that a strike is imminent. I simply can't not listen when I am being lavished with praise and being told how I don't look a day over 24 and "Gosh, how does your tushie stay that firm and shapely?"
But beyond the gossip, the flattery, the inside secrets and the dishy dish, we simply drift off, tune out and let our mind wander to whether or not we should have bought that $100 turtleneck sweater from Anthropologie last night after a couple glasses of wine, and did I remember to call grandma, and should we order a pizza for din...
We don't freaking listen. I know this because I spent my entire day yesterday in a whirling vortex of NOT being heard. Over and over, not once, not twice, not just three times or so- all freaking day I was ignored, misheard and pretty much having what I consider riveting conversations with myself. Now, I love the lively banter that me and me have on a daily basis- really, I do. But, when what I'm saying will actually make the difference between a problem being solved or me being forced to extricate my toenails with pliers due to mind-numbing frustration, well then I'd like you to shut the fuck up and pay attention for once.
Yes, Verizon customer service- I'm talking to you. "The buttons on my brand new phone don't work AT ALL" is not the same as "So, you're telling me that your phone is spontaneously making phone calls?" And, "No, I'm telling you that when I push the cute little buttons that NOTHING happens" is very much different from "So, you're having difficulties setting up your voice mail?"
And computer services at work? Don't pretend that you don't know what I'm talking about, mister. "My computer just shut off by itself" is an entirely different sentence than "Oh, so your monitor is broken?" (And on a side note, computer dude: My confidence in your computer-repair skills is greatly diminished by the fact that you couldn't even figure out how to silence the ringer on your cell phone and genuinely looked surprised each time it rang in that just telling it to be quiet wasn't enough.)
While we're at it- I'm calling you out too, you people that ask questions then either walk away, start talking to someone else, or get that glassy stare that tells me you're thinking about making out with Clive Owen/that cute girl from accounts receivable/the bag boy at the grocery store while I'm answering. All day yesterday I had to deal with you people. My favorite part is when I answered your question directly and clearly, and then you turned around and asked someone else the same freaking question and acted as if I were mentally challenged and doling out bad advice even though you NEVER HEARD WHAT I SAID IN THE FIRST PLACE. Man, that's just rude. Next time I'm just going to kick you in the crotch. Hard. At least then one of us will walk away from that conversation with a tiny bit of satisfaction.
We need to tune in, pay attention, and actually hear one another, for once. If you ask the question, do me a solid and hang around for the answer, dude. If your job is to solve problems, then actually proving your competence by correctly absorbing the pertinent information should be a given, not an option. If I took the time out of my day to listen to you tell me that story about how the grocery store refused to take your 25-cent off coupon for lavender-scented maxi pads, and I actually listened and contributed to your dear-god-it's-so-dull-I'd-rather-be-flossing conversation, then the least you can do is return the favor.
C'mon! We can do better, people!
Whew. That felt good.
I'll quit bitching now- thanks for listening.
Now, what was that you were yammering on about before I interrupted you and started ranting? I didn't catch it. Sorry, I was thinking about my cats again. And feet. And if I should make some eggs. And do I need to pluck that hair? And...