Shhh, did you hear that?
No, probably not. Not because you don’t want to, it’s just that the world has gotten so noisy. How can we focus on what we need to hear with all this background noise? The sound of traffic, music playing, other conversations going on around us, maybe water features, maybe, just maybe, if we are really lucky, we can hear birds chirping. These are the just some of the sounds that fill the environment around us. How can we be good listeners, attentive to the conversation at hand, with all this noise going on around us?
Wait, that isn’t even the worst of it. How can we be good listeners when we have our own noise going on in our head? Oh, you know what I mean. When we are supposed to be listening to a loved one but all we can think of is something that happened at work or what we will have for dinner or even “I really don’t want to listen to this right now.”
It is so important to listen to those that mean the most to us, but with all the noise around us how do we do it? Well, the place to start is to stop talking. Seems rather easy, but it really isn’t. We don’t need to fix others problems or remind them of where we stand on an issue. Sometimes we need to stop, keep your lips together, make eye contact and listen. Trust me your friends and family know where you stand on an issue. If they need you to solve the problem, they will tell you, they will ask for your help. Besides, how do you know what kind of help they truly need if you don’t really listen to what they are saying.
Sometimes, all anyone needs is to be heard. If everyone needs to be heard, who is listening? How can any point be made? How can we understand what someone else is going through? If we don’t respectfully listen, can we expect others to respectfully listen to us?
Respect is the key word here. Show each other some respect. It is ok to disagree, but not okay to be rude, thoughtless, or careless. There is a difference between understanding each other and agreeing with each other. Let’s strive for understanding, agreeing we will leave to the Stepford Wives.
I am the mother to 2 amazing teenagers. They have gotten to the point in their lives where rules and people frustrate them, something we can all associate with. They like to talk to me about their frustrations and I am happy to listen. Let me state that again – I AM HAPPY TO LISTEN! I put that in all caps because many parents would love to have their children talk to them. Well here is how I got it started (and it works with spouses, parents, friends, not just children). I acknowledged that sometimes in life circumstances will agitate them and they will need to vent, for these times I will listen and only listen. Other times they will be confused or concerned and need another point of view, this is when I just ask questions. Still other situations will leave them at a loss and this is when I jump in and help them fix it. How do I know which situation? Well, I told my children that each of these will happen many times in their life. I might not know which situation is which, they might not either. If they do, they tell me up front. If they don’t, I listen until they realize they need more from me.
By listening, truly listening, to my teenagers, I learn about their likes and dislikes, about the important people in their lives, about their dreams and goals. We don’t argue, we don’t raise our voices. They have learned that if I am willing and able to listen to them, they can listen to me. And they do!
Next time someone important in your life needs to talk, listen to them, really listen. It is so important.