There is this conversational phenomena referred to as “Preemptive futuristic listening”. It’s that thing we all do with other individuals. You know, when your mom takes on that one seriously abrasive tone? She clears her throat and employs that little sigh with a wheeze after which out pops that preparatory phrase “Hey honey bunches I just have a thought…”
In that moment you get weird don’t you? You know what’s coming. You’ve predicted that whatever mom is about to say it’s likely to be genuinely annoying, obnoxious and probing. You also know that you are not enthusiastic about hearing it. You tense up, you become defensive, you get passive, evasive, reactive and so forth. It’s difficult to have a dialog at this point. It really isn’t going to matter what she is stating, what her intentions are, or for that matter what the probabilities of what she is proposing may actually be, you have checked out.
You might be completely convinced that she is the most obnoxious person on the globe. You have adequate evidence of course, and that evidence often seems to come out in conversations doesn’t it? “Mom, you do this all the time” and then an argument that spirals into an unforgiving tailspin, and you already know how the rest goes. You preempted what she was going to do or say and you determined the end result of the conversation before it even started.
This type of preemptive futuristic listening of other people keeps you from hearing what is really being said. It costs you that crucial connection with others, negates any possibility of being at ease, and creates stress and frustration.
Consider that you may very well be like that with absolutely everyone else in your life. Your parents often get the worst end of it, the explosive side of you. Try doing that with your boss or your lover and see how that works out (don’t really try it). This is why new people can be so fascinating, you haven’t developed the type of listening filter you have with those you’ve known for a long time and you greet the conversations with a sensation of discovery; fresh, new, organic and full of possibilities.
You may keep a straight face most of the time, but underneath there is a person who is dying to have a clean slate and really feel empowered in every conversation, internal and external. Some people are just plain crazy, or rather they tend not to hide it well. They walk around on this planet pissed off at everybody- generally just afraid that absolutely everyone is out to get them to some degree. You already know these people because they continually look like they have just eaten a piece of rotten fruit.
On the other hand, have you ever been in a conversation with another person in your family, a friend or co-worker and they look at you a little cockeyed when you tell them how much you love Yoga? “Isn’t that the thing that those tree-hugging hippies all do naked in the woods before they sacrifice a goat to appease the rain gods? It’s not for me, keep it away” Sounds like they might be listening to you in a certain way, too. You can’t have that so drudge on and prove your point right?
What would your conversations be like if you gave up the insistence of getting your point across, too?
Something nearly magical occurs when you give up the need to insert your position, your opinions and unsolicited advice into every conversation. Make note that you probably do this in the conversations you have in your head as well. You might find that the context of the content of your conversations is something entirely different from what you previously thought. Strange and wondrous things happens if you drop the need to predict others and prove your point. I’m just sayin’.