Who's guilty of talking without listening?

An advantage of being vision impaired and wearing a headband that says so is that one can peer and even stare at things and people without giving offence. The other day this stood me in good stead.

Sitting to my right at the long bench in the local coffee bar were two men, one probably in his early 60s and the other in his early 20s. They were so different in appearance that they cannot have been related. The older man did most of the talking, emphasising his speech with hand gestures and pointing fingers. The younger man seldom spoke. When he did, it was briefly and he was often interrupted. When the older man seemed to listen, he did so with arms folded across his chest and his body language seemed to say, ‘convince me, if you can’.

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To my left and on the opposite side of the long bench sat three women. Furthest to the left was a woman who must have been in her mid to late 80s. From the lines on her face, her life had, obviously, not been all that easy, or happy. Nevertheless, she radiated ‘positive energy’ and when she smiled, which she did often, her body language smiled too and radiated goodwill and caring.

Also in the group was a strikingly handsome and elegant blonde woman who must have been in her early 60s. Between the two older women sat a ‘perhaps 25-year-old’. She was simply dressed in blue jeans and plain top.

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What caught and, indeed, riveted my attention was the fact that all three women, regardless of their age, listened to each other.

There was never any sign of one or other of the three women trying to ‘hold-the-floor’ or ‘lay down the law’. They each looked at and listened to each other speak with attention and interest.

It was, and always will be for me, a wonderful example of social communication at its finest.

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Written by Peter Leith

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