Listening is one of my 3 words for 2015.
Listening is something I want to do better this year. In the same way that some people vow to get more exercise or sleep or to spend less time gaming, I’m focused on listening.
This is my focus for the 46 days of Lent that began on February 18, Ash Wednesday. Conventional wisdom says that it takes 21 days to establish a new habit, so at double that, I figure I stand half a chance of realizing success. (Trust me, the math works if you didn’t really listen to what I just said.)
Listening is the most important of all interpersonal skills. Without listening, it is impossible to honestly answer others’ questions or to even speak about what’s important to you, since you must listen to others’ responses in order to know they’ve correctly understood your meaning. It’s impossible to be open to others’ ideas if you don’t actually hear what they say. It’s impossible to be true to yourself if you don’t hear how others speak to you.
Listening to What Others Say to Me
My intention is to listen to what others say to understand the meaning behind their words, the subtext of the message.
I have heard some interesting things at work or related to my work in the first 12 days into this project.
How Dare You Speak the Truth?
I have heard someone attack me verbally. The attack was classic. I pointed out a problem that exists to a person who could resolve it by making a few small changes. Her response was to deny the situation exists. Then, she deflected attention from the problem by responding with information not related to the situation. She finished up her response by denigrating me.
By listening to what was said, I have become aware that if I expect to no longer hear verbal attacks from her, I will need to set a boundary with this person. By the way, flaming emails are hardly new, as this piece last week on Forbes shows.
I have also heard the adamant insistence of someone convinced she is right and certain that we must adopt her solution. It has been impossible to actually discuss the situation. By listening to what she said, I became aware that I needed to assure her that I have heard her opinion and that her solution has merit.
I also heard some good life advice by someone who must have known how much I need it. We were at baggage claim at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, having just hiked from concourse E.
And despite that we’d been on the ground 30 minutes, no luggage had yet appeared. After some taxing days at work, and with late nights and early mornings bookending my usual less-than-restorative hotel room sleep, the knot at the end of my rope was fraying fast.
“You have to practice your patience,” he said to me. “E is for Eternity.” I didn’t hear snark, although I was attuned for it. I heard compassion and the voice of experience. I took his advice, and made it home in less time than I had feared, and less frayed.
Fear and Anger
I’ve also heard fear. I’ve heard it in my own voice. I’ve heard it in others. Fear can sound a lot like anger. Both are valid representations of intense feelings. When you learn to hear it in others, you’ll never approach a fear- or anger-based statement in the same way. Compassion will replace your inclination to respond in kind. Understanding, connection and resolution will follow.
Live Honest, Open and True
Listening well can improve your relationships with co-workers and others who are important to you. It can also bring you closer to yourself. By listening, you hear the words, and the meaning behind the words. I believe in you and want the best for you and know you can achieve the best for yourself.
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Tweet: Listening is not a form of denial or imposed suffering. A blog post by D’Anne Hotchkiss
What do you hear when you listen with your heart? Tell me about in a Tweet to @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!
Related Posts: Be True to You