Have you ever heard this expression, “He knows me so well, he can finish my sentences”? I thought of this the other day after finishing one of my communication classes. In this class we are learning to listen out of curiosity – wondering what the other person has to say and where they are coming from – so that we really, really listen. I had found myself earlier in conversation with someone and it went like this:
Me: I didn’t want go home early that night…
Him: …because you didn’t want to make dinner for your kids.
Me: [Pausing to figure out what just happened.] “Um, no; because I had work to finish before my vacation.”
And I swear to you the day before with a different person went this conversation:
Me: I feel nervous going to that class…
Her: …because you don’t know anyone there.
Have you had this conversation before? Have you been the “me” in the scenario or the other person? If you don’t think you are that other person, who jumps into the pause at the end of the sentence to “finish someone’s sentence,” think again. I am amazed how many people don’t know that they have this habit.
And even if you don’t do it out loud, there is a very good chance that you are doing it in your head – deciding what the other person is going to say, finishing their sentence in your head, and then because you have done that, not listening. The shift? Notice yourself – notice where you do this and notice where you stop listening and then tell yourself to stay open and curious.
I suppose sometimes you “know someone so well” that you can finish their sentences in the way that they intended, but don’t count on it. Chances are good that you have stopped listening and inserted your own world view on what they are saying. Chances are also pretty good that even if you are right, it will be interpreted as rude because you have stopped listening. It takes a high level of awareness. Good luck.
Next week I’ll write about…