Most of my adult life, I have not been listening fully. I only listened long enough to determine whether the speaker’s ideas matched my own. If they didn’t, I would stop listening, and my mind would race ahead to compose an argument against what I believed the speaker’s idea or position to be.
We’ve all done it: hollered a confident “hi, Mark!” to a guy named Greg; slipped up and called our sixth grade teacher “Mom”; snuck up on our sister from behind and delivered a pinch, only to realize she was a stranger. These kinds of gaffes are simultaneously the most mundane and most embarrassing of mistakes. More people than I can count told me stories like these, all of which ended with the speaker expressing the fervent desire to vanish. As one such person put it, “The only thing you can say in these situations is, ‘Sorry, I just had a brain biopsy.’”