Why don’t I listen if I know how to do it?

Have you ever asked yourself this question? I’m interested in your answer.

I learned how to listen, formally, forty-five years ago, in Thomas Gordon’s “Parent Effectiveness Training” (P.E.T.) class. My life was never the same. I was always a natural listener, sensitive and receptive to peoples’ speaking. And, the moment I saw the actual ‘how to’ of the listening process, I remember saying to myself, “OMG. This is it! This is the whole thing. This is what has to happen between people.”

With that revelation, I took it on and never looked back. I became a student of listening, began practicing it, learned all I could about it, and started teaching it. I’ve often wondered about the other participants in that P.E.T. class. We all had the same experience. Did any of the others take it on as I did, make it as big a part of their lives? Probably not. Or, at least not many.

Why not? How could anyone who saw what I saw walk away unchanged? How could anyone see the holy grail of human relationships not be touch, moved, and inspired to create a listening life? How could anyone not want to bring this life-changing miracle to their children, spouses, and friends?

And, yet, my experience tells me they don’t. Really, they don’t. Even if you are one of those who doesn’t, isn’t that hard to believe? I’ve never, in all these years. been able to wrap my head around that. Makes no sense to me. You are reasonably intelligent, right? You know how you feel when you’re not understood. You know how you feel when you can’t connect with someone you love in an important conversation. And, you don’t listen. Why not? Where and how did the day you learned how to listen disappear?

That’s what I don’t understand. You have the skill and you don’t use it, accepting the non-listening conversations with the predictable consequences. That’s why I asked the title question of this blog.