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To Retain or Not to Retain…

Being a “good listener” is always up there on the list of the most desirable qualities in a person. And being deemed a good listener can automatically skyrocket you further and higher in the eyes of others if you will. Let's try using it in a sentence:

“He was a good listener, and was cool and composed about her supreme competence.”

In many situations, being noticed as a good listener (and the counter - a bad one) has an effect on the impression you leave on people. A student being a good listener to a teacher, and vice versa. A manager being a good listener to one of their team members, and vice versa. A parent being a good listener to their child, and (definitely!) vice versa would be nice. Etcetera.

Some members of the fam think I am a horrible listener and always have been. 🙃 I’m choosing the word horrible, which is exaggerated, but let’s just say they think it’s not good. Let me give you a couple of examples where perhaps this listening judgment comes up for me. Maybe it resonates with some of you.

  • XXXX tells me about something {insert word of choice here} that happened when they went out that morning. Perhaps a day or two later, that story pops up again and I am hazy on what was talked about as far as real details. Boom…not a good listener. “I already told you this, you never listen.”

  • XXXX gives me a pointer on doing something they think is the way - Mandalorian-style, or easier, or better. This said something pops up in my own life a week or two later and I am not sure I truly absorbed or understood what they meant back at that time. Which means I didn't really remember. But now, I am in the situation personally, myself. People sit up straight and pay attention when something happens to them directly. I tend to be that way. So when I ask to go over that “pointer”, Boom…not a good listener. "(Long Sigh) I don’t want to have to explain it again, you never listen.”

I am a decent listener, I’ll say that. It feels like bragging if you say, “I’m a good listener” with conviction. It does tend to be a standard answer given in almost every interview. Maybe I think it seems like boasting because someone can never reach a max on the quality or way you listen to someone speaking and interacting with you. Listening skills belong on the continuously-have-and-better-them skills list.

Listening in the moment is not the same as holding onto what you listened to in the past. You can't control someone else's ability to listen to what is being said to them, how it is taken in, comprehended, and then if it is retained. I have always begged to differ back to them. I counter with, “I listen…I just choose not to retain.” A Seinfeld show scene popped up in my head. “I Choose Not to Run!” Yeah, well…I Choose Not to Retain!

- pardon the subtitles -

Retaining information of any kind requires lots of important effort and time to sift, sort, select, single out, see, study, soak up, sign up, save, set aside, sustain, and support. I kinda want to see if I can keep going with more S-words. My head and I’m sure other heads, works like a mini sorting machine, like a cash counter, or a filing cabinet where ‘life stuff’ is getting shuffled around constantly, by the second. Everyone has seen a filing cabinet of some sort whether it was electronically on a computer or physically in an office area.

It’s the particular place in your mind and memory where there are loads of sub-areas, sub-groups, sub-sections, sub-tabs, sub-folders, and sub-life files stored, all having to do with YOU. It’s where you go to find and fetch your previous/past idea, thought, memory, vision, story, feeling, or even dream. Most of the time, the contents lay there dormant until something triggers the cabinet drawer to open up. The sound of something, the sight of something, the smell of something. And sometimes, a file or two falls out and something just pops into your mind randomly, kind of like a dream does. I find myself saying “Where did that come from?” sometimes when it happens to me. Filing away a gazillion life experiences is challenging for anyone while adding to them by the second.

I Choose Not To Retain! some things I feel at that time, are not super important to do so. People who know me can probably picture me saying it like Jerry did. Just like everyone has to pick their battles, we need to pick the information that we want to focus on and retain. Based on what is going on in your life at that particular moment, is any of the information falling upon you by the minute worth retaining? Stories from family or friends, streaming news platforms, podcasts, good ole newspapers, whatever the means of getting your information and listening to it, retain what you feel you want to or quite frankly, what you are able to handle. People have so many things going on in their lives, there is only so much room, ya know? If that makes you the opposite of a good listener to some, then so be it. Go with your gut. And try to pick your data download as best as you can.

Hats off to those who continue to recite and respect those who choose to retain. Or not.

- pardon the subtitles -

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