You may not think it but we do actually listen to you. I appreciate that may seem odd because you think the way we act means we cannot possibly be listening to you. We take no notice of what you say because we still go ahead and do the same things that we have done before. We keep repeating a comment as if we have never heard your answer the first time around. You remind us about the time we are meeting and we turn up late or not at all. You could be forgiven for thinking that we are very poor listeners. The reality is that we are very good listeners. The difference is that we choose to hear differently.
When you are shouting at us, advancing your argument in a forceful manner we will be responding to what you are saying, usually with denial and deflection. We are not interested in what you are saying, we are concerned with hearing your feelings. We want to hear the strangulated and seething anger that manifests in your words because then we know (along with seeing your contorted and reddened face) that you have reacted to our provocation and accordingly you are providing us with fuel. If you are hurling insults at us, calling us names and berating our dress sense, weight and intelligence we are not wounded by these criticisms because the fact you are spitting with venom, shouting them in a rage or shrieking with delight as you insult us means you are providing the emotion that equates to fuel. The harsh names just dissipate because we are not hearing them. We are hearing the emotion of what is being said, that is what matters. You can devise the most original insult the world has ever know but if you throw it at us with emotion then all we hear is your emotional reaction. Have you often wondered why we are smiling when you are arguing with us? It is because you are giving us what we want; fuel. Oh and also because we know that smiling at you will infuriate you all the more.
We listen to you with considerable attention during the initial stages of the seduction. We ensure that every snippet of information, every morsel of knowledge that will assist us in seducing you and binding you tight to us is heard and absorbed, filed away in readiness for use at the appropriate time. Each time you reveal to us a new restaurant you have found or a new play that has just opened which you like we take notice. When you tell us about your friends we listen in anticipation of bringing them under our spell also. When we listen at this juncture you think we are attentive and interested in you. Indeed, we are and your reaction to this is to praise us, thus providing us with fuel, and to feel attracted to us, thus binding you to us. Our interest however is not as you would normally perceive because our interest is borne out of the use we can make of what you tell us, in order to further our own agenda.
We also listen to you to understand how our behaviours affect you. We listen to the praise and delight you gush forth and we note what we did that caused this. When we subject you to devaluation we soak up the fuel you pour towards us but we also listen to how it is affecting you. You tell us about how it hurts, how you cannot sleep, how you feel anxious, how you feel sick, how you are frightened, how you do not understand. We do not care how you feel but we are most interested in you telling us this. This forms feedback based on our various manipulations. As we gather the fuel from your tearful pleading we also ascertain how what we have said has had an effect on you. We listen to you explaining to us how you feel because we do not feel it ourselves. We need to learn from you in this respect. We need to learn so we can mimic is when the need arises. We need to learn that if somebody feels a sense of loss then they will cry. Accordingly, if we anticipate losing you then an appropriate reaction would be to cry. We have learned from what you have shown us and what you have told us. See, I told you that we pay attention to you. We also listen so we know just how effective our manipulation has been. Is what you are telling us explaining a minor degree of hurt and sadness or is it more substantial? We do not know ourselves because we do not feel sadness ourselves. That redundant emotion was either stripped from us or never allowed to develop in the first place. Accordingly, in order to understand what makes someone sad, a little bit sad or devastatingly sad we have to observe your responses and listen to what you are saying. We do not stand and listen because we are concerned and because we want to find a solution to your state of sadness. That serves no purpose to us at all. What we are doing is listening to the detail of your misery so we can replicate it. We can replicate both in terms of pretending we feel miserable when the occasion suits us and we also replicate it to make someone miserable for the purposes of control and the gathering of fuel.
It is through listening that we hone our manipulative skills. It is through listening that we learn all about you, what you like and what you dislike, what your hopes are and what vulnerabilities you have that we can exploit. Through listening we understand how you feel so we can mimic this. It is through listening that we are able to comprehend how you are affected by what we do. Yes, we spend a lot of time talking, telling the world about how brilliant we are and this is of course the way of what we are but you would be surprised at just how much we listen. Just because we may not be listening based on what you deem to be important is does not mean we are not listening at all. Far from it.
Accordingly, next time you plead that we listen to you for once or that you beg us to “listen to what I am saying” you will find that we are and you will come to regret it.