When we listen to others, we are now and then more focused on our own answer, our own turn to speak, than really mindfully listening to the other. We are more occupied with our own meanings, our own role, than receiving the message from the other.
It can be several reasons for this phenomena. Sometimes it may be our social insecurity, a sort of social anxiety, being afraid of not living up to a presumed acceptable social standard in our conversation. Or it can be that we are actually more interested in expressing our own views than trying to understand the views of the other. We often would like to call that engagement when it comes to our selves, but an annoying narcissism when we recognize the same traits in others.
That different judgment of myself and the other is in itself interesting, not very fruitful, and definitely not mindfulness. I`ll leave that for now. There could be other reasons for us not really listening as well. By being aware of our own role in a conversation we surely can get more insight into ourselves. Often, and that is my view, it is about the basic thought of “what`s in this for me?”.
We are able to arrest ourselves in this trap of not listening also in situations where we are supposed to follow a lecture,f in situations where we are supposed to get new knowledge about a topic. And in situations like this I often find myself thinking that this is well known, and sometimes even that I know more about this than the speaker.
This question of “what`s in it for me” could be an inspiring question, making me listen more carefully to the other, trying to learn, to get more knowledge, to widen my own perspectives. The question itself is basically a good one. But the question could also block us from the other, building fences, if it becomes, not an openhearted willingness to receive, but a selfish focusing on my own needs and gains alone. And then my own selfishness becomes my own enemy, driving me into the position blocking the wisdom and knowledge I could get if I listened more mindfully.
This was a long introduction to my simple message. Hopefully some still hang on.
Mindfulness has learned me not so much ask “what`s in this for me”, but more “what is he/she trying to tell me”, a whole different world of gaining new knowledge and insight. Mindfulness has learned me to concentrate on the message from the other, to wonder, to be critical, but also accepting. We all try to experience through the question of “what is this”, and the question of “what is he/she trying to tell me” is a part of the same tradition, the same way of experiencing the world, the other and ourselves.
This is to me not theory. It is my own experience. I have become more concentrated, I have become more focused on the delivered message, I have become more mindful in my meetings with others. And I can tell for sure that this has enriched my life, given me more insight, made me more thankful. Hopefully, it is for others to judge, it has also made me a little bit more wise.