“It takes a great man to be a good listener.”
– Calvin Coolidge
If I had to venture a guess, I say that 85% of our daily conversations are just meaningless filler. The vast majority of topics we discuss are nothing more than social niceties, talking points so dull that we completely zone out from them. Saying “that’s cool” while thinking “I don’t care” has become my default response to almost every conversational trope known to man. While it hasn’t happened just yet, I expect that in the future at least one of my exchanges will go like this:
Me: “How was the family reunion?”
Other person: “Terrible, I got molested by my uncle.”
Me: “That’s cool.”
My apathy isn’t meant to be malicious, it’s just something that naturally arises from not being apart of something. Whether junior just took his first steps or you had a cocaine fueled orgy, I wasn’t apart of it and thus it has little impact on me.
Of course, this lack of interest goes both ways. I can’t even count the number of times when I’ve excitedly retold a story, only to hear “that’s nice.” When you actually care about something, it’s the most infuriating response on earth.
This weekend I’m going to try and pay attention during every conversation I engage in. It’s probably going to be boring and I’ll have to sit through a lot of drivel, but it will mean a lot to others.
When people share a story, no matter how boring you find it, it’s because they thought it was important. Even if their story sucks, which it probably does, you owe it to them to pay attention.
If I hear anything worthwhile I’ll probably Tweet about it. Have a great weekend.