I am sad to say that there have been moments in my life when I haven’t listened as well as I should have. I have on occasion found myself hurrying someone along so that they would get to the point and I could go on my way many times in the past, especially with the storytelling personality of some people.
My dad could tell wonderful stories. When I was a child I used to love to sit and listen to him for hours. My youngest daughter has inherited this gift as well. Oh, I know you’re thinking I am a story-teller as well. You are right; I used to sit in groups of kids at different schools telling all sorts of stories each day. Somehow my storytelling has found its way to the written form more these days.
My youngest daughter has an imagination beyond compare, the tales she can weave span entire generations and involve so many characters that about half way through you’re wondering how you got from point “A” to point “P”. She is truly amazing! Sometimes, when life is hectic, we tend to try to hurry her along so she will find the point, make it, and we can change the subject. She is hard to get to hurry or change “channels” and often will stick to the rambling until she’s done, you’re frustrated, she’s mad, and the point got thrown out the window.
Yet, that is not active listening. Active listening would involve listening to the story, asking questions if needed, but not to interrupt, putting your own feelings and emotions aside, and allowing yourself to be in the moment and enjoying the conversation. That also includes turning off the radio, putting down the cell phones and focusing on the person speaking. The effect is amazing. The attitude of the speaker improves because they are being heard. The person listening is learning about the speaker by listening, eye contact and watching expressions, both people gain by the encounter and the relationship is strengthened.
Listening and communication have always been the most important things in relationships, but especially now in this high pressured, busy, sometimes almost frantic pace we all keep to make sure everything is done each day, it seems more important than ever to find that person that is a true friend, an oasis in the midst of chaos, that we can turn too and have them just….listen.
Cherry Coley ©