Are you listening or waiting for your turn to talk?

Are you listening or thinking about what you'll say?

This graphic from Facebook reminded me of a scene in the extended version of Pulp Fiction. In the extended version, Vince (John Travolta) goes to pick up Mia (Uma Thurman) for their night out. She greets him with a video camera. She starts asking him questions, questions she designed to find out more about a person.

The first question is Beatles or Elvis, but she doesn’t bother asking him, because she thinks it’s obvious Vince is an Elvis man. That’s why, later in the movie at Jackrabbit Slim’s, Mia calls him an Elvis man. (That scene didn’t make sense in the theatrical version, because the earlier video interview scene was cut.)

This question is the one I want to talk about:

MIA: In a conversation, do you listen or wait to talk?
VINCE: I have to admit that I wait to talk, but I’m trying harder to listen.

Watching that opened my eyes. There are a select few people I have a hard time communicating with and now I know why. They aren’t listening to anything I say, which is why they ask me the same question within minutes of getting an answer or reply with a non sequitor.

One way you can tell the other person isn’t listening – the split second you stop talking they immediately jump onto their chance to talk. They can respond so quickly because they were thinking about what they were going to say while you were talking, instead of listening to what you were saying. Their responses can come so quickly that the conversation can have the rhythm of an argument even when it isn’t.

One Response to Are you listening or waiting for your turn to talk?

  1. Siergen says:

    That sounds like my sister, except that over time she’s gotten even worse. As she speaks to you, she is already imagining your response. As soon as she finishes her sentence, she immediately leaps into her rebuttal of the response she imagined you’d make. There’s no need for a second person in her “conversations”…