Life Lesson # 4
Today’s post is all about the beauty and quiet strength that comes from listening to another person with your heart.
I want you to think about the number of conversations you had with another person today – five, 22, or maybe even 50, depending on what you do for a living. Now, think about the number of conversations that you overheard – you know, when you became bored at work and simply found your thoughts trailing into the conversation of your co-worker who was on the phone, or the two people sitting across from you on the bus, or at the park.
Think. Remember. Contemplate.
Of those personal interactions that you either engaged in or overheard, or the ones in which you were being nosy (giving ear, where your ears weren’t invited), how much of the conversations can you say you actually remember? Was it the way the person was standing that peaked your interest, or was it the one button undone on your co-workers shirt that grabbed your attention more than the topic of conversation itself? My point is this: we never really listen to people – at all. But, we are excellent at pretending we hear and appreciate every, single word slipping out of a person’s mouth. We nod our heads every few seconds to show the other person we are politely interested in what he/she might be saying. Some of us even focus on looking another person directly in the eyes – or right between the eyes – so that they are as fooled as we are, and believe we that are focused and engaged. Oh, and let us not get too serious, because when we are getting “down to business” with another person, we furrow our brows as if to signify,
“Yes, what you have to say is completely interesting to me, and I could not be more intrigued at every word you’re saying if I tried.”
When I myself, want an individual to believe I am hanging on each syllable and every breath transpired, I lean inward (invading only a small fraction of their personal space) curl my hand to my chin, furrow my brows, and then BAM – there I am, looking entirely engaged, seeming as if I am participating wholly in the conversation. What I know is that this is a big, fat, bold-faced lie… At least sometimes.
On some occasions, I think we actually do hear people. We hear the agony in their voice when they are stressed, we hear the tense curtness in their voice when they’ve been overworked, and often we hear the illicit sadness in their voice when people are depressed. Our ability to hone in and really listen during the moments when people need to be heard the most, is an incredible gift that we possess as human beings. The truth is, we need to be heard and we need people to listen with their hearts. Yes, that pumping, vibrant, beating thing in your chest that has grown cold due to years of hurt, or, imagine this: years of not being heard. I invite you today to listen to at least one person, with your soul invested in what he/she is saying. Instead of doing what we normally do, listen with half our ears and our hearts still parked perfectly in our chests, I challenge you to do just the opposite. Most of the time, we do not even realize that we aren’t listening to people. What we are actually doing is thinking of our next response to what the person has said 30 seconds ago, with our minds typing up our next interruption. I guarantee that you will be amazed at the numerous benefits that come when you listen to someone.
Imagine the stories, ideas, creative knowledge, recipes, good ole’ days stories, your-mom-used-to-do-this tales, and when-I-was-your-age anecdotes that blossom from the beautiful exchange two people can have when they are both listening. On the flip-side, imagine what it feels like to actually be heard. Imagine how much more rejuvenated you’ll feel knowing that you’ve taken part in sharing words with another human being (perhaps someone you really care about) and that those words have been received and digested by the both of you. Oh, the beauty of simply lending more than an “ear.”
Oh, the beauty of actually being heard.