I was talking to a friend when I saw a missed an opportunity to hear her story which was something very important to her. Soon, after pretending to listen, I found myself making the conversation all about me - no surprise. She would say something and I would respond, I know! and here’s what happened to ME, here’s what I think and this is about me, me, me. I then recognized how she may have felt shut out and down.
So, I made a new goal. My 2015 focus. I’m calling it My Year of Listening with a capital “L”. This is a stretch goal for me and harder than you might think.
I once read the greatest gift you can give someone is listening by giving them all your attention and focus. This absolute focus on the listener gives them validation, a feeling of importance, and though they might not recognize it, a sense of being a remarkable human being in the universe. I have a friend who is an incredible master at this. She listens with all her focus and being, leaning toward you, making eye contact, her attention on you and only you. There are no distractions as she listens. She will ask insightful questions and clarify things you might have said to help her understand better. She makes you feel as if you and only you are the most important person at that time in that moment. I always walk away from our conversation feeling validated, truly listened to and, strange as it may sound, more confident. This is what the gift of listening can do.
As I travel this road of listening, I find it very difficult to listen with everything I have. I try to have fun with it The more I share my goal with people, the more I’m called on it when I’m slipping down the slippery slope. I have backslid a number of times already. I start by listening and but soon begin to daydream about adult beverages and shopping or developing a response to what is being said, listening with half an ear and waiting to quickly jump in with a response. Then, all of a sudden - yada yada yada is all I hear myself blithering. I have to stop mid-sentence, look at the speaker and ask an intelligent clarifying question which usually is, “Um, what were you just saying?”
But sometimes I find the speaker is sharing things I just don’t want to hear. It may be something really personal or information where my paradigm of the speaker negatively shifts so suddenly it makes my head spin, or they really take so long to get to the point that I want them to just shut it. I stay with it though and listen. I may pop a sweat because it is freaking hard work staying quiet and focusing.
The important lesson I have learned through listening is this powerful and magical secret - I don’t have to solve their problems, I don’t have to fix the speaker, I don’t have to provide advice and guidance, I don’t have take on their issues, I don’t even have to like them. I just have to listen, giving the person the gift of hearing and knowing the story they’re telling is much, much more than the words they use.
By the way, I can’t wait until January 1, 2016 when I can make it all about me again!
My Year of Listening Wishes for You
You look past words, tone, and even the speaker to hear a true story being told.
You listen to someone sharing how absolutely delightful and shiny bright you are. Pay close attention for they are sharing a truth.
You hear a story that might have been missed had you not been truly listening.
You believe in yourself.
And, as always, you know you inspire and motivate!
With infinite love and gratitude,