Advertising
Advertising

8 Signs You’ve Matured Through Hardship And Not With Age

8 Signs You’ve Matured Through Hardship And Not With Age

The saying ‘with age comes wisdom’ is true, but it is perhaps oversimplified.

When we were kids, we heard the adults in our lives tell us again and again ‘you’ll understand when you’re older’. It’s not until you’ve been out on your own for some years, and experienced a myriad of hardships, that you realize how true these sayings are. In fact, they have more to do with your experiences than simply getting older.

It’s not like our brains become more capable, or able to absorb more knowledge as we get older. In fact, it’s the opposite. As early as our late 20’s, we begin to lose neurons, and it becomes more difficult to pick up new things and remember as much information as we did when we were younger. This means maturity comes from the amount of things we’ve seen, experienced, and more importantly, how we dealt with these things. How many catastrophes and epic failures have knocked you down? How many heart breaks have taken a chunk out of you, and left you feeling like it will never be replaced? More importantly, how many times have you gotten back up, dusted yourself off and kept on going?

Advertising

The more you go through, the more wisdom you gain. The more mistakes you make, the more you qualify to dole out advice on what and how to do things. Your credibility stems from having gone through hardships yourself.

The following are 11 signs you’ve matured through hardship, and not just with age:

1. You know the difference between love, lust, and emotional dependency

You know yourself and what makes you truly happy. You are capable of telling the difference between someone who makes you feel like you desperately need them, and someone who strengthens you and has your best interests at heart. You are capable of objectively understanding the relationships you are in, as well as the kinds of relationships you want to be a part of. You also know how to love others (family, friends, pets, etc.) unconditionally, and value yourself enough to expect those who will love you, to love you just as much. You don’t settle for less, because you deserve the real thing.

Advertising

2. You are not a quitter, but you know when it’s time to give up

Yes, you’ve had to work hard to get by in life, and you’ve learned that putting in the time when it gets tough proves to be the only way to accomplish anything. Yet you also know when something isn’t going to work, or when the cons outweigh the pros. You are smart enough to not waste any more time than the necessary. Finally, you know that giving up something that’s wrong right now, will free you up to pursue something that’s much better later.

3. Your failures have taught you that you aren’t perfect, and that’s o.k.

Your failures have taught you that you aren’t perfect, and that’s o.k. You’ve learned through making mistakes what not to do, which has probably come with its fair share of embarrassment. You’ve learned that asking for help is not only necessary, but a sign of strength, not weakness. You don’t bat an eyelash at reaching out to ask for advice from someone who is better at something than you are. Doing these things has taught you humility. Although you might have believed you knew everything at 18, you are now aware of just how little you really did know. You probably also realize how annoying you must have been at that young age, when you have the opportunity to meet other young adults with the same cocky attitude. It reminds you to stay grounded.

4. You’ve learned that things don’t happen when they’re rushed

You may naturally be an impatient person, but you’ve learned that things don’t happen when they’re rushed. They happen when you put the time in, keep showing up, and keep an eye out for opportunities as you go. This routine makes you patient, because you know that you’ll achieve your goals eventually, and that things always get better. After all, you were able to get that exasperating bachelors degree after chipping away at it for 6 years while working full time. You might have also tasted the accomplishment of purchasing your own trip around the world after saving every penny for three years straight. You thought these things were impossible when you started, but learned that with patience and time, all things can be achieved.

Advertising

5. You question situations, and look for proof or confirmation before investing too much

You might not be a hardened cynic, but you certainly aren’t dewy eyed and naïve. You question situations, and look for proof or confirmation before putting your money or signature on something. For example, if a landlord asks you to sign the lease on an apartment before you’ve done a walk through and made a list of damages, your answer is no.

Similarly, If a potential flat mate tells you they are ‘100% sure’ they want a room your leasing, but won’t be able to pay you until next week, then your solution is to ask them for some up front. You’re smarter now that you’re older, and know how to manage your time and money.

Finally, if a friend tells you about an offer she’s received for a risqué-modeling shoot, but proceeds to explain that she barely knows the male photographer, chances are you’re going to help her confirm his website, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles to make sure he’s legitimate and that your friend is safe.

Advertising

6. You don’t fall for false flattery

You’re experienced, and you’ve met a lot of different types of people. You know the users, the flatterers, and the frenemies. You’ve learned to discern the difference between false flattery and genuine compliments, and no longer have an ego that needs constant boosting. The only compliments you value are the ones that come from the heart, and are genuine. These compliments mean the most to you when they are from someone you deeply care about.

7. You find yourself giving advice and sharing insights often

I mean often. Having been through some tough experiences yourself inclines you to give lots of advice to those who are still navigating their way through life. Although this can often times come off as annoying, controlling, or patronizing, those who know you will understand that it comes from a genuine desire to help.

8. You know with certainty what you don’t want

You take calculated measures to avoid these things. You’ve learned through mistakes to know what your deal breakers are and how to handle them.

Featured photo credit: Girl from Behind With Fantasy Sky via picjumbo.com

More by this author

How To Get That Travel High Even When You’re Not Traveling What Will Happen When You No Longer Go To The “Top 10 Attractions” Signs That You’re Capable Of Feeling Fulfilled On Your Own Why You Should Be Really Grateful To The Friend Who Always Challenges You Five Websites Solo Travelers Need To Connect With Locals and Other Travelers

Trending in Communication

1 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers 2 8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener 3 11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day 4 What Is the Meaning of Life? A Guide to Living With Meaning 5 How to Stop Being a Perfectionist (Step-by-Step Guide)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

Advertising

I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

Advertising

I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

Advertising

Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

Advertising

Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

Read Next