Levin knew that his elder brother took little interest in farming, and only put the question in deference to him, and so he only told him about the sale of his wheat and money matters. Anna Karenina

I so want to be fully tuned-in to others lives. But my want is often from the selfish place of appearances, pretense and pride. God, please change my selfish want of using others into a want to engage with others per Your design.

It is this core desire that must be aligned, not the execution of a technique. And if I love an interlocutor, I will listen patiently and not have to maintain self in the conversation. But my recognition of technical improvements can improve my repentance by exposing my lack of love. Maintaining self consists of three aspects: (1) bouncing back into my own life to give an example that redirects the conversation to me, (2) completing my friend’s thought or sentence because I am tired of waiting, and (3) having to deflect misunderstanding.

Bouncing Back is a sign of the most selfish listener who has probably not worked at all to improve their care for others in conversation. At its worst, everything that the friend my say, I would counter with an example or thought from my own life. There would be very little pursuit of a thought and experience that is offered by my friend. I would say that it is almost always the best case to pursue instead of offering my own until the friend inquires as to my own experience in the matter.

I have just begun to focus on the cessation of this practice of Completing Thoughts. I feel it is another sign that my care for others has been lacking. Often someone will search for a word, and I can hit it about half the time, but this leaves me guessing ahead instead of listening, and it is a sign of impatience. There are those occasions when my friend will ask for my help in remembering something, or explaining a concept. And, there is encouragement for my friend sometimes when I show agreement, especially if I demonstrate momentary enlightenment due to his idea.

And finally there is a practice that goes to a deeper level. I call it Deflection of Misunderstandings. My wife might call it: a refusal to be known. My son related to me a very good example of a success in arena. Someone with whom he was speaking offered an opinion of his choices in career path, assuming that part of his direction was being taken as a safety net instead of a calling. Although he recognized that this person had misunderstood him (for he knew that he felt quite passionate about the aspect) he remained silent on the topic and continued to listen. Doing so was difficult because he risked the perception of cowardice, but allowing the person to fully express their idea could lead him to some truth that he might have cut short.

Diagnostics:

  • Does the person care about what I am about to say?
  • Does it edify, leading to further engagement?
  • If I am giving a parallel example in my life, am I promoting comparison or am I engaging?
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