How to be a better listener and friend

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Sandy (or 'Auntie', as many people call her) is our FIFO Survivor. Her husband works offshore in oil/gas and they've been together for more than 30 years - many of them as a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) family. In that time they've raised two beautiful daughters (both now in their 20s) and moved more than 19 times! Sandy wanted to write for Mining Family Matters to show you can survive FIFO.


"The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply."

A friend recently posted this comment on Facebook and it made me realise I do it all the time.

Often when I'm listening, I'm already thinking about my reply and actually miss what is being said. I wonder what I've missed out on all these years! 

This has special relevance at the moment, as the man of the house is in China for work. Skype is difficult. We are left to short, random phone calls - those horrible ones with the delay or the repeated conversation. You try to reply and it's your own voice talking back.

It has taught me to take a breath, pause and then speak.

I am now trying to do this in day-to-day living. I tend to surround myself with positive people who can offer a lot. So now it is time to make a concentrated effort and actually hear
what they are saying.

Here's what I find works well:

  • Be precise: remember going to see a comedian who started on a story, did a detour and about an half hour later we received the end of the first story. Meanwhile we had at least two other stories. It was confusing!
  • Show emotion: Nothing worse than those bland tutors who have no feeling or passion in what they are trying to say. After a while all you hear is blah blah.
  • Be supportive and open minded. Learn to listen and be caring. Value others' opinions and knowledge on subjects.
  • Be confident in what you are saying. Especially at work. Know your subject too. 
  • Don't be aggressive. If you show threatening behaviour, people will not listen. They'll just switch off. 

More from Auntie Sandy:

If you've got a question for 'Auntie' Sandy or would like to make a comment about FIFO living, we'd love to hear from you. Click here!