Listening involves a lot more than just hearing what someone says. There’s a whole lot of body language that one needs to pay attention to, too. I’ve never been very good at the listening part, but I’m getting a handle on the body language that results when I don’t listen as hard as I should.
For instance, while out shopping in the outlet mall in Lincoln City this past week, Diane went to the Maidenform store to get some new bras while I took the long way around the facilities in search of stuff. I had no plan. I’d already purchased the cheese cutter I wanted from the Kitchen Kaboodle store and there wasn’t anything on my list. Know this, Diane suggest, I’m told, that I should seek out another nice shirt for our trip back east later this month. I filed that away and made a concerted effort to comply but shirts were scarce in the stores I thought I might visit. I suggested that I would be happy to go pick out a bra for her if she would get the shirt, but that summarily dismissed as inappropriate. I guess she still doesn’t know that I always cruise the bra section at Freddie’s when we go there.
So, I wandered off, passing many stores that featured women’s clothing … I mean, I passed a bunch of them … but not one men’s store encroached on my field of vision. That could have been a subliminal thing, I suppose, since I really wasn’t looking for men’s clothes.
Something shiny in a tool store caught my eye as I passed so I stopped and discovered it was a new kind of meat tenderizer and lawn aerator combination thing that you strap to your feet. It had 3 inch spikes all over the bottom of a piece of rubber with little bungee cords to keep the user from falling off. I supposed it would also be useful in really bad weather to keep one from slipping on the ice. Surprised that it wasn’t mentioned on the brochure, I figured the manufacturer missed out on another sales opportunity.
I set the spike shoes aside after the store manager noticed I was making little holes in the floor, and moved on to the section where a vast array of hand tools were displayed. By this time, of course, thoughts of getting a new shirt had been removed from my short-term memory, and out the door. It just wasn’t there any more.
Then I came across this table of shirts that were obviously made for men and the words “GET SHIRT” scrolled across the inside of my forehead and I knew I needed to get one of them. Thankfully, they were all the same color and there were only two choices for the wording.
Simple, right? Well, I pondered for about 30 minutes between the two and finally made the choice …
The other shirt read, “When a Man says he will FIX IT, he will FIX IT. There’s no need to remind him every six months“. I would have gotten that one instead but there were too many words on it.
Although it’s not what Diane had in mind, she liked it so I was able to defuse a potentially contentious situation by doing the wrong thing. Too bad all my wrong decisions don’t turn out that way.