Joan Brown, Woman Waiting in a Theatre Lobby, 1975
It was 2017. T was the one who told me I talked too much. He didn’t say it directly, he mentioned that a friend of his didn’t like me because I spent all of lunch talking about myself. I felt stung, but I told him I’d try to listen more. Of course, T himself was preoccupied with his own ideas and often monologued for hours, but I didn’t point that out. I was starting to become tactful.
I worked hard on it over the next few years. How to listen. How to probe, but not too much. How to ask thoughtful questions, gentle questions, sharp questions. I noticed the way a girl in our friend circle drew information out of people with her open, receptive manner, and I mimicked her. I’d always liked listening, but I started to learn how to love it. I was rewarded when I listened. I started to realize that people loved me because I could listen.