Stupidity Can’t, Won’t and Doesn’t Listen

An indisputable character trait of a stuper (short yet again for a jarringly stupid person) is the inability to listen when others are speaking. Listening means not interrupting, not performing a little jig mid conversation (unless requested to do so by the other party) and not abruptly changing the topic at hand to one more palatable to the stuper. Listening to another person entails nodding periodically, inserting comments or questions at appropriate intervals and making eye contact, all of which lie outside the restricted mind and cramped capabilities of stupers.

My friend, Stan, periodically meets his banker buddy, Bruce, for coffee. Bruce woefully lacks presentable listening skills. Stan pays attention and tries to be genuinely interested when Bruce talks; however, Bruce does not reciprocate. When Stan speaks, Bruce listens for about eight seconds, before shifting his gaze and his trifling mental cargo to others at neighboring tables, often with such intensity that Stan turns around to locate the subject of Bruce’s rapt attention. He usually finds Bruce engrossed in such exciting events as an elderly woman pouring sugar into her tea or a man reading a paper while devouring a donut. Mind boggling events from a stuper’s standpoint.

My fair-minded readers may be thinking that perhaps Stan’s topics of conversation are humdrum forcing poor Bruce to seek diversion elsewhere. Au contraire. Stan is a dynamic, energetic and engaging speaker. The real problem lies in the stuper’s ridiculous conviction that the sun rises because of him/her. Anything others have to say is uninteresting, unimportant and uninspiring unless, as I’ve mentioned earlier on, gossip, malice or scandal is involved. Or unless, the topic is about the stuper him/herself.

I had dinner at the home of my older son’s friend recently. I spent most of the evening listening to Myrtle, the mother of the friend. I heard how she bought, remodeled and furnished their home. Myrtle poured out details about everything from nasty neighbors who called her to inform her that the color of their newly painted home was putrid, to how Myrtle practically stole precious antiques from a hapless dealer. The conversation was not of my choosing, but I did my best to be a courteous listener.

The next time my son visited his friend’s house, Myrtle mentioned to him that she found me charming and intelligent. I had barely spoken a word. But I had listened. Mostly out of a sense of obligation, as she was the hostess. That’s what made me so appealing. I didn’t even have to utter a scholarly word so long as I appeared a good listener and allowed Myrtle to speak at immeasurable lengths about herself. I was a stuper’s dream.

In order to distinguish yourself from the stupers among us, make sure you train yourself to at least have a semblance of listening skills. If you find your thoughts wandering, fear not; try bringing your attention back. Focus on one-three important points in your companion’s tale or argument. This helps you to be an active listener according to media coach and CEO of Clarity Media Group, Bill McGowan.

If you truly are driven to madness from the tedium of a conversation and unable to escape, as I was with Myrtle, you have permission to allow your mind to wander. But please try not to be a conspicuous non-listener, like Bruce. Do pop in now and then with an “Oh, really!” or a “How nice!” After all, there are times when listening to another speak is truly gratifying. Since stupers are mostly unable to listen properly, they never experience the sense of engagement that comes from a worthwhile conversation.

Think for yourself.


9 Responses to “Stupidity Can’t, Won’t and Doesn’t Listen”

  1. Starlily says:

    Hear, Hear! Thank you for posting this so eloquently Keli. I believe good listening is common courtesy, good manners, and respectful.

  2. Reilly says:

    This happens to me sometimes. I’ll be talking to someone and they change the subject like I wasn’t even speaking and never come back to it. I used to think it was me. But I realized that some people (stupers) just never learned how to listen. It’s very irritating!

  3. Paulyn says:

    What a good post, Keli! I have to say, I do know a lot of people who find difficulty in listening and they seem to always end up misunderstanding the whole point of the conversation, just because they insist on doing all the talking most of the time. When I was a teenager, my dad used to call my attention on this problem too. He would often yell at me “Listen before opening your mouth!”. I would always feel offended whenever he would do this, but as I became an adult, I realized the value of listening first, and waiting for my turn to speak, because after that, I would surely be heard.

  4. Dan says:

    How true! Self-centredness seems to be the norm in today’s society and along with basic manners, the ability to listen when others speak is fast becoming a lost art. If it is alright with you, I would very much like to put a link to your site in my blog, both for my readers and myself. Regards.

  5. Suzie says:

    You are absolutely right! I was talking to my friend.
    She asked me a question and just as I was answering it,
    she just left and started talking to
    another friend. She did not wait for me to even finish my first
    sentence. What do you call that type of person? A STUPER!

  6. Keli says:

    Thank you – I always appreciate good listeners.
    Yes, it can be irritating, but it also helps you figure out who you like to be around.
    Obviously your father is no stuper.
    Listening is becoming a lost art which means it’ll be more valuable to those who are able to use it. Thank you for adding my link!
    Very rude – I think it’s high time you pick your pals more carefully, don’t you?

  7. You have successfully found my stuper flaw. I have a hard time paying attention to others when they talk (although, I love reading what people have to say). Fortunately, I’m a journalist, so I do a good job of pretending to listen. From typing notes while interviewing people, I’ve gleaned the ability to pick out the important parts of what people are saying while my mind is busy with other things (when I’m interviewing, it’s busy with typing or scribbling in a notebook).

    I think it’s an auditory thing. I rarely pay attention to music I’m listening to, either. I can never remember the words or artists for songs.

  8. Julianne says:

    Great advice. I guess I need to make a conscious effort to stop doing unprovoked little jigs during my conversations with friends.

  9. Agnes Mildew says:

    I so wish that my ex husband could learn some listening lessons from you, Keli. There is a vast difference between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’ which he unfortunately hasn’t yet distinguished. Listening to another’s point of view, no matter how tedious, is just common courtesy. A trait which appears to be sorely lacking these days.

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