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In the Moment - - Contents - KIRSTIE DUHIG Editor

This month, I’ve been think­ing a lot about lis­ten­ing: whether I do enough of it and whether it’s the right kind of lis­ten­ing. When I read Aunt Josephine’s col­umn: “How can I get a word in edge­ways” (page 43), I didn’t think ‘Eek, I hope that’s not me’ – I’m not that bad, hon­estly!

But I did won­der if we can all be guilty of over-talk­ing and un­der-lis­ten­ing at times.

I know, for in­stance, that when some­one tells me a story – be it happy, sad, funny – I of­ten join in with a sim­i­lar, per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence. This is partly be­cause I like to share sto­ries as a way to con­nect, but it’s also be­cause I want to show the other per­son that I truly un­der­stand how they feel. I also know that some­times, in my de­sire to show the other per­son how much I em­pathise with them, I leap in with my story be­fore they have prop­erly fin­ished telling theirs. While my mo­ti­va­tion for this is well-meant, this is maybe a bit an­noy­ing at times and def­i­nitely an in­di­ca­tion of me not lis­ten­ing fully. And, if the story be­ing shared is a sad or dif­fi­cult one, prob­a­bly not what the other per­son ac­tu­ally needs.

So when I catch my­self do­ing it – mind slightly wan­der­ing, off re­triev­ing anec­dotes from the vaults – I’ve been try­ing to bring my­self back to the present and truly lis­ten. It’s a hard habit to break. But what I have dis­cov­ered is that lis­ten­ing fully, and let­ting go of the need to re­spond so quickly, is a much calmer way to have a con­ver­sa­tion. And it doesn’t mean that I have to stop shar­ing my sto­ries either – I just need to slow down a bit so I don’t miss any of any­one else’s.

PS: Re­ceive a set of Orla Kiely cake tins when you subscribe, page 24

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