(This is an old post I’ve moved over from a blog I used to have. I wanted to get rid of the blog but save some of the posts. The original was posted on 31/07/2009.)
Too few people communicate these days. They may seem to be constantly on their mobile phones, texting and calling, or on an instant messenger sharing random links. But very few actually wish to participate in an active communication via any of these mediums, even if they are face to face.
Most people you will meet simply want you to know what they want to tell you. Think about your own communications; we’re all guilty. How often are you listening 100% to what the other person is saying? If you pay attention I bet you’ll find that most of the time you’re half-listening, whilst spending time figuring out what you want to say in reply to a point already made, or about that cool new coat you got yesterday instead of just paying attention. Even I find myself doing it, and I know I’m ‘good’ at listening (or so my friends tell me).
For me, it depends on how important something is. If someone is pouring their heart out to me, or telling me about that fantastic person they met, or even how Football Manager Online is going then I will listen to them without saying a word or trying to think of a reply. Tell me something pointless though, and I’m liable to drift off into my own world. So many people show themselves up in a debate by formulating their argument whilst the opposing point is being made. Most of the time this happens they end up looking stupid as they present an argument which actually ends up supporting the previous point, because they didn’t listen to the end of it. This happens everywhere, be it face to face, on MSN or even on a forum. Just take a look at all the long threads you can find on forums. Read the first post (preferably a long first post) then skip to the end of the thread. You can almost guarantee that 90% of the replies will say “I only read the first post…*insert opinion that has been stated/disprove a dozen times over*” or “I only read the first paragraph but… *insert argument that is actually identical to the rest of the first post*”.
The worst case is often at work. Customers who don’t let you finish what you’re telling them about the package they asked about, or who start to have a go at you before you can even explain the store policy. They will argue until they’re blue in the face about what ‘should’ be right and how it ‘should’ be done, even if you’re trying to tell them that what they want is exactly what they are entitled to!
And then there are those who never wish to engage in any kind of conversation. Adds to Facebook to increase friend count, sending texts with jokes in but never any other kind or those who just send random funny/interesting links but never wish to ask how you are, or even reply if you enquire after their well being. The kind who seem to think that having lots of ‘friends’ is some kind of status symbol, to show how successful and popular they are when most of that group probably hasn’t said a word to them in months.