My father in law hears what he wants to hear. It can make life very interesting and often difficult.
I put the phenomena off to his being 82 years old. He has his way and I guessed that he felt he had been around long enough to have it his way. He was not going to be phased or confused by the facts of the situation. It is what he determines it is.
I noticed recently it happened with my oldest son – now a teenager. I made a comment from the dining room to the son (sitting just three yards away) in the living room. My husband smiled from across the table. “What?”
“He heard something different from what you just said.”
“Son, what did I just say to you.”
Sure enough, the words that my son repeated back to me were not even related to the ones that I had sent forth.
I put this off to teenage rebellion. He was asserting himself. He was attempting to become his own man. He had a plan of action and the directions of his mother would not hinder that plan.
I noticed the other day it happened with my husband. I made a comment about an upcoming event. I repeated that same comment for a full week (about a dozen times on one particular day). My husband heard the opposite of the comment I had made.
I quit putting it off to individuals and determined that the mind will play tricks on us. I will hear what I want to hear if I am not actually listening to what other people say. It is not about being old or being young. It is about being open to the words that others have to offer.
Learning to Listen
- Choose to listen. I have caught myself working on a project and just passively listening to the person sharing with me. It has gotten me into trouble when the sharing was a request from a young child with scissors. It has left me at a loss when the sharing was from someone spilling their heart. I have to make the choice to stop what I am doing – or what I deem at that moment to be most important – and actually listen to the words that are offered.
- Avoid the trap of opinion. Words can be twisted with very little effort and when the twisting is complete they do not always match up with the original intention. I need to hear the words at face value instead of piling my own words on top of them (or in place of them).
- Stop thinking and listen. Too often I catch myself formulating a response to the words before the words have a chance to be released. My response does not have to be instantaneous. I can wait a moment as I ponder the words that were shared. The response will be even better if I hear the words before I formulate the response to them.
I am not in a position to fix the menfolk around my house. If that were possible, I would have done a lot of fixing a long time ago. I can allow their actions to teach me about my own. Seeing them choose not to hear the words makes me more aware of my own need to hear what others are saying.