Listen, Daniel. Listen.
My 7-year old nephew, Daniel, loves to talk. And by loves, I mean LOVES. It’s amazing how such a small person has so much to say. His 3-year old sister, Catalina, mostly listens and on occasion she manages to get a word in. I can’t help but laugh when I see the scenario because it brings me back to my childhood. When we were growing up, my sister LOVED to talk and I would just sit there and listen and every now and again, I too got a word in. However, sometimes I just couldn’t take it anymore and I would yell to the top of my lungs, “Shut up already! Don’t you ever get tired of talking?!” She would just look at me in bewilderment, like that’s a really stupid question, of course I don’t get tired of it.
But back to my nephew. Recently I was dropping them off at the airport and on the drive there Daniel was yapping as always. At one point, he got quiet and, at that moment, Catalina finally had an opportunity to say something. Daniel did not like this and told her to be quiet because he was trying to think. To which I said, “Daniel, you talked most of the ride and now it’s Catalina’s turn to speak and your turn to listen.”
It’s pretty obvious to point out how unfair it was for Daniel not to let Catalina have a turn. But if we stop and analyze our listening behaviors and are honest with ourselves, we might find that we are just as guilty as this very talkative little boy.
How often do you go on and on about yourself, your issues, your situations, your thoughts, but when it’s the other persons turn to speak, you completely tune them out? Are you blatantly bored with what they are saying because it’s not relevant to you? Or instead of listening, you’ve compared your experience, given them advice and/or drawn conclusions and judgements?
This, my friends, is not listening.
To listen means to give the person speaking your undivided attention and acknowledge what they are saying. If we do not listen, we will easily misunderstand the message being relayed – and this can cause all sorts of issues.
Dr. Ralph Nichols, known as the father of listening, summed it up fantastically when he said that “the most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”
Just like you want to be understood, so does your spouse, friends, family and co-workers. Let’s show them that we care by taking the time to really listen to what they are saying and let’s understand where they are coming from – judgement free.
Let’s listen and show empathy.
Let’s listen and show our loved ones we care.
Let’s simply listen.
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