Author: August Clarke
One of the most memorable conversations I’ve ever had was with someone who I am friend’s with, but not really “close” to in the traditional sense. He is a friend of mine that I don’t see very often but enjoy talking to because he occasionally surprises me by saying something insightful or offering a piece of, particularly helpful advice.
I noticed that he rarely talks about himself and I pointed it out to him in one of our conversations. He told me that the reason he never shares anything about himself is that he believes that no one really cares about other people’s stories and only like to talk about themselves.
In short: humans are inherently self-absorbed.
At the time, this struck me as being extremely ironic because the person telling me that no one cares about anyone besides themselves was also someone who often seems to care about everyone except himself. The very fact of his existence seemed to invalidate his argument in my head.
If no one cares about anyone else, then why had he been sitting across from me and listening intently to me speak for the past hour and a half?
I pointed out that if you lived by that logic it would basically be like accepting that none of our relationships actually mean anything. His responding advice was so simple it’s practically common sense, and yet I haven’t stopped thinking about it since:
“Then find people who listen.”
It was this that made me realize why I find it so easy to talk to someone I don’t see nearly as often as many of my other friends. He’s a good listener. It’s as simple as that. I can talk to him without fear of judgement, without being interrupted, and without worrying that he’s going to tell everyone else all that I have told him.
I started looking more closely at some of my other friendships and I realized that there was some truth to his words. I realized that many of my friends often only talk about their own problems and then go dull-eyed when the topic changes. I even had one friend go so far as to say “this is boring” when I started talking about something important to me.
However, he wasn’t right about everything.
Because for every person who didn’t listen, there was also someone who did, who asked the right questions at the right time and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say.
I was forced to reanalyze a lot of my friendships and in doing so I realized what it is that made some of them so much stronger than others. It’s important to build trust with the people you are close with, but the only way to do that is by listening to each other. Really listening.
We don’t always need someone to give us advice and fix all of our problems. Sometimes all we need is a compassionate ear.
Most people act a little self-absorbed at some point or another, but it’s important to surround yourself with people who are willing to sit down and listen to you and support you without judgement. If you have people in your life who aren’t willing to do that, it might be time to reanalyze your relationship with them. Sometimes it’s not worth it to expend energy on people who won’t offer us the same courtesy.
It’s important to hang on to those who support us and learn to cut our ties with people who don’t, no matter how hard it may be.