Listening is a skill most people believe they have – but in all probability – they don’t. I would even go so far as to say the art of listening is rare. Look back for a minute – how many times have you been genuinely heard? Most likely it’s a very low number – unless you are fortunate enough to have a good listener in your life which is a true gift!
Take this a step further: What about the number of times you’ve really felt “gotten” when you knew without a doubt the person listening had a true experience of you? Rare? I’d say so.
Many people live with the belief that they are not being heard. A fellow blogger wrote a post on the rise of teenage suicide and I had the thought that if more of these young people had actually been heard, or better yet – gotten, it might have made a difference in their lives.
This is a serious supposition I admit, but I also know the art of listening is disappearing because our lives have become fast-paced and technology-filled. I’ve heard many people comment that although technology keeps them in touch with so many people, they rarely have meaningful conversations.
Our world has become on-the-go, with most interactions happening through electronic devices – which also cause interference in their own right. Phone calls are made on the run, when we’re busy driving home from work, or shopping causing our attention to be divided. Let’s not even mention texting – often times misinterpreted – “Did he mean this?” “Why did she write it that way?” Too confusing, too hard.
Electronics, social media, texting – all have their place – but if this is all we do – there is a huge part that has gone missing: Human contact and communication. Are we really in touch?
We are being trained to be comfortable speaking to “smart” devices? No words for this one . . . I will not have one in my home. To each his own.
A friend of mine’s mother recently passed away when she was on a trip to Italy with her sister. She has a lot of guilt about not being there when her mother passed and is deeply grieving. She shared that her guilt was the worst part of it all. I have to admit, I was flabbergasted and dumbfounded when she told me her doctor put her on antidepressants. She’s not depressed – she’s grieving. Did the doctor not hear her when she said her mother just died? Is this what we get now – a pill instead of an ear and a referral for grief counseling?
When a genuine opportunity for human communication actually happens, we tend to . . .
- listen with our busy, cluttered minds
- believe we already know what the person is going to say
- have our response formulated – while they are still talking
- listen with fearful hearts – for the proverbial bomb to drop
Not many people are listening and available with quiet minds and open hearts.
Let’s have an honest look at our lives then . . .
It’s not easy to be honest, it could mean massive changes are needed.
We are being pushed to the max. Life is tough at the best of times for most of us. Our minds are assaulted with negative programming, people are being divided, we are being treated as slaves at our jobs, trying to make ends meet, and our emotions (if we can feel them) are all over the place. Many of us are asking if it’s even safe to let our children outside. Life as a human being is very challenging – we are being pushed and pulled, controlled and manipulated left and right.
And then . . . someone wants to talk . . .
- I need to get dinner going.
- Oh no, not her again, so many problems.
- I’ve got to get the kids in a half an hour.
- My to-do list is waiting for me.
- I don’t have time.
- I can’t take another interruption.
Yes, this may be true, but what is the cost of not listening . . . to our children, or a spouse or friend, to yourself. Being open and available allows you to sense if something is off with a loved one or even within yourself. It takes work, time, patience and discipline – but it could literally save a life.
Not listening now can cost us lots of time later on. So many problems can be averted if we only stop and listen. Make this a priority, you do have the time.
And if you truly don’t have the time in that moment – be honest and say so. Most people can recognize and respect honesty. I appreciate it when someone is honest with me as opposed to only half-listening. I can feel the difference and know you can too.
There is hope!
This will not stop until you say STOP – ENOUGH! You have to literally say STOP in order for you have some peace in your life. That is step 1. Breathing is step 2. You may even shed a few tears. That’s ok. Time to get your Self back with an open mind and open heart. Stand in silence, if only for a few seconds, listening to your heart beating. Take stock, be honest – Is this the life I really want? If not, put out an intention for what you do want.
Listening is so important, as is speaking from your heart. If you want to say something, but are struggling with how to communicate, grab your closest friend and tell him or her: I have something I need to say, but unsure of how to say it. Can you listen to me and help? This frames the conversation and hopefully sets up a safe space for which to speak, and with all probability – you will be heard and gotten.
Make sure you have someone’s full attention before communicating. You have to make sure you are being heard. In a way, it’s your responsibility. And in turn – be available to someone else when needed.
Your world can slow down if you say so. You only need to ask.