One thing which has always fascinated me is the human mind and more specifically, the way it functions in social situations. To me as humans, no matter how kind, we are all a little bit selfish (obviously some of us are far more selfish than others), however despite how kind or modest we appear, we still have that tiny animalistic part of our brain which wants us to focus on our own primary needs first. I believe this can be seen most prominently in human interactions with one another. Conversation isn’t just a format to learn about our friends and family but a way to discuss, praise and criticise either ourselves, people we know or things around us which hold interest. How many times have you yourself had a conversation without someone replying with either their opinion on what you said, a better story or even a simple “shut up” to show their lack of interest? Everyone who is listening has some form of response.
Next time you’re in public, be it a bar, a cafe or local park, take a moment to stop and pay attention to what everyone else is saying. As long as two people are sat in conversation, the person who is supposedly listening will always be focusing a large portion of their attention on what they plan to say next. The statement which implies that as people we don’t intend to understand but to reply is one hundred percent true. Whenever you find yourself in conversation take a moment to consider it. If you are paying attention (which many sadly aren’t owing to the sheer chaotic nature of the human mind) then are you really listening to gain a wider knowledge on the topic in question, be it their family, their week or even anything political? The likelihood is no.
When a parent asks another about the children, it is very sadly not often in genuine concern about the other’s family but is instead an opportunity to put their personal view on parenting or take a moment (whether deserved or not) to relish in the accomplishments of their own children.
No greater place proves this than at a political debate. If a Labour supporter were to start a debate with a Conservative supporter, neither one would be going into that conversation with the intent of broadening their own knowledge of the other’s party, but to instead market and reply on how their own, whether it is better or not.
Whilst some people are more obvious than others, indeed there is an insane number of people out there who will happily ignore the sometimes genuine points of others just to focus on themselves (people who are commonly referred to as being in love with their own voices). There are also those who are less obvious about their need to reply. These are people who can sit and listen to someone for hours at end without uttering a single word. When it comes to the end of the discussion, they will normally exhale a shorty snappy line summarising what they heard or commenting in some supportive or insightful way.
As people, we urge to comment and have our opinions known. Even when we have no knowledge or care for a subject, we want to feel involved and as such will throw any comment we can out there, just to gain some involvement in the conversation. I do believe some people go into certain conversations in order to gain some knowledge and understanding, however, I feel it’s more common for people to go into conversation with the intent of replying being a much higher priority.