I feel like often I have a problem where I will listen for the wrong reason. Almost all the time, I listen with the intent of giving support and helping and on occasion this will bite me later. For example, when I said something to one of my coworkers and the asked me to repeat myself about five times before I realized it was just a joke being played on me, rather than them actually having comprehension issues. Maybe I’m just a loser, but that didn’t seem very considerate to me. Often times this finds me in a gullible position. I act as though people are always being genuine to me and looking for my support when this is not always the case.
Another example is times when my friends will be joking about something very serious and I believe them (we often have dark humor). My default emotion is not to joke around and say, “Oh, shut up, you’re shitting me,” even if they often are. Habitually, this seems like it would be embarrassing, but any shame I have left me years and years ago. I would rather be caring all the time (and, subsequently, when it matters) than make jokes and be funny the one time it’s not a joke, but that’s just my opinion.
The obvious solution would be to harden myself and not always look to help, but I don’t want to do that. I’ve always considered myself an extremely empathic person, and I intend to keep it that way. I see this not as a listening problem, but as a strength. It’s really hard to genuinely care about people, especially most the people you meet. My empathy is part of who I am. It’s what got me my job. Empathy as a skill is much more powerful than most people would believe. It helps me be who I am and be approachable.