Franis (dialoguers) wrote,

Showing Respect by Listening

I'd like to explore this idea that talking or listening are two ends of the stick of how respect is shown. Because I'm not so sure that this it true. Sometimes it's respectful to be the one who does all the talking - because the other person wants to listen! Sometimes it's respectful to interrupt - because if you don't, the other person will just keep talking indefinitely because they feel awkward if nobody is talking - or because they're used to being an entertainer.
I think that what is respectful depends on the situation at hand - and it is different for different people.

I think that it's true that for there to be a relationship - someone has to be listening. But I'm not sure that listening is so much better than talking - I think they're equal. Of course, if you listen, you end up getting a whole lot more than if you're talking, usually. So in the realm of giving and taking - the giver is supposed to be the more ethically valued one in our culture and the givee is supposed to be devalued because they're on the receiving end - but the situation needs the givee. So how is the listener, who is the givee, is deemed to be the more desirable one when it comes to talking?

People weren't used the the fact that those of us in the dialogue were interested in what they had to say. Mostly people are only interested in when you're going to stop talking so they can talk, or at least, that's the situational competition of the real estate of the time available.
It's a circumstantial competition - we only have a few hours together, mostly, until people disappear for another month off into the woodwork. So, having all the attention of all the other people in the dialogue was ...strange for most people. Then they had a lot to say to everyone, never having been in the circumstance where people wanted to hear what they had to say. Then as time would go on, the need for having things to say would die down sort of naturally. It was an interesting process to watch in a newcomer.
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