Listening Is An Art
A few years ago, my father was visiting my daughter and me with his partner, Maureen, a certified master gardener. This was their first time in Minnesota—and it was early summer. We had been walking around a lake, and were now sitting on a park bench. Maureen started a conversation by describing the flora surrounding the water and how the vegetation was quite different from her parks in Georgia. I agreed and mentioned the invasive species, Kudzu, prevalent in the south but nonexistent in the Midwest. My father said looking at my daughter, "I'm glad you enjoyed your classes this year." Maureen began to explain that invasive species are quite different regionally. My dad interrupted, "What books are you reading, Anna?"
My father-in-law, Don, does the same thing, except one-on-one which is even worse than in a small group. When there are four people you can divert into two two person conversations if need be. But with two people? I started, "Jen and I have been working on a few children's books in our spare time." Don replies, "I see that there must be a sailing club out on the bay." Arrrgh! (Don is a good man—he and my mother-in-law have been married 52 years. See All Are Significant
Granted, men interrupt more and are generally worse conversationalists than women—take the presidential debate between Trump and Clinton as an embarrassing example. However, conversation is an art form, I say. Conversation is a skill
. And it is not taught in school. It is not taught in college. It isn't taught anywhere. It is learned from day one as a baby—as a noticer.