Sometimes I’m a terrible listener. There. I said it.
Yeah, I know. If there’s a silver rule behind the golden rule of loving your neighbor, it’s listening. Listen to your mom and dad. Listen to your teachers. Listen to the bus driver when she tells you to stop. Listen to your Sunday school teachers. Listen to your heart (isn’t that a song?). Listen to your boss. Listen. Listen. Listen.
Sometimes though, I just don’t want to listen. This happens a lot when I’m on the phone. Very poor timing since listening is essential to a phone conversation. But there’s just something about holding a box that a person’s voice comes out of to my ear that makes me angry.
Today, for example, I had a phone call with my boss and I was done after the initial hellos. He wasn’t. First, let me say that I like him a lot. Ok, now I can say anything I want since I prefaced it with that, right?
Ten minutes into the conversation, I screamed.
“What happened!” my boss asked.
“Oh, paper cut,” I replied.
What had really happened was my dog bit me in the middle of our game of tug of war.
Five minutes later, my boss screamed. Well, he didn’t scream. He just said my name very loudly.
“Huh?” I asked.
“Did you hear what I asked?” he said.
“No. I’m sorry. Bad ear,” I replied. I really do have a bad ear. My left. Unfortunately, I can only use that excuse once per phone call.
Three minutes later (this phone call was going much too long), a long bout of silence shook me out of my reverie. If there’s anything worse than your boss screaming, it’s him being completely silent. I knew I had really done it now.
“Yes, I agree,” I ventured. Really grasping for straws here.
“How about you call me back when it’s more convenient for you?”
Ouch. The call ended.
I definitely wasn’t trying my best here. People’s time is important. However, I would like to take a stand against the silver rule of listening.
We’re all human. Sometimes, we have a lot going on and we need to be honest instead of feeling like we have to go along with whatever was scheduled. It’s on the calendar. It’s set in stone! No. One click of the delete button and it’s gone. Easy.
My problem today was that I had a take-home exam due in 2 hours and my wifi decided to quit. Panic! I didn’t need to listen, I needed a Time Warner repairman (yeah, I was screwed). When I told this to my boss after the nightmare phone call he was fine. “Why didn’t you just tell me before!”
Right? Why didn’t I just tell him before! Instead of being so caught up in going along with the plan and not ruffling feathers, I just needed to be honest. Stuff happens. He would have been fine with rescheduling.
After all, honesty is always the best policy. I learned that by listening intently to my Sunday school teachers.