Category Archives: Listening

Don’t Be a Know-It-All

When we’re used to being the one in charge, the one who makes the decisions and directs others to action, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking we know it all.

2 dozen geese on a fall pond, one is flapping its wings and squawking, while the others calmly ignore him

The know-it-all is so busy trying to impress others with his knowledge that he fails to recognize that while everyone can hear him, no one is listening to him.

Once caught in that trap, we can think we have nothing to learn from anyone else, and that everyone else could benefit from our knowledge.

At a dinner party a few months ago, I had the painful experience of watching this know-it-all scenario play out. It was a small, casual gathering of old friends and newcomers. Partway through the evening, someone posed a question to an expert with multiple degrees in an area of highly specialized science. Very quickly, someone else jumped into the conversation. This second person, we had learned earlier in the evening, is an accomplished professional with an impressive career. But it became clear very quickly he had only limited knowledge in this area of science. Continue reading

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Wine and Whine Wednesdays

Years ago when Sister Pat and I lived in the same town, we would get together nearly every Wednesday evening for dinner at her house.

2010 Chateau d’Anne Cabernet Sauvignon and a wine glass on a granite countertop

When we feel like whining, we can choose instead to get together with a friend and talk out what we’re really feeling.

She’d cook and I’d bring a bottle of wine. We gave each other the gift of unconditional listening as we’d discuss whatever was troubling us. There was no shortage of topics. She was recently divorced with a grown child, and I had divorced several years earlier and was raising two teenagers. Sometimes, we needed to solve problems, and sometimes, we just needed to vent. Misery loves miserable company.

We called those evenings our time for ‘wine and whine.’  

At the end of the evening, we both felt better for having expressed ourselves in a safe venue. Sometimes we learned to look at our situations differently. Sometimes action was possible. Sometimes, we simply had to accept things as they were. Continue reading

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Can You Be Open to This?

When we open our minds, we break down the barriers that keep us isolated from others. Being open-minded requires that we recognize others can

blue sky with large puffy cloud in the center

Clouds respond to shifting winds while maintaining their fundamental weather purposes. We can respond to new information while maintaining our values and our relationships.

believe or act or live differently than we do and yet still be in our lives.

When we are open-minded, we take the time to understand the point of view, beliefs and experiences of others. To be open is to show respect, even when we do not agree, or even necessarily approve of the other person’s ideas or actions. To be open is to accept others for who they are, not for who we think they should be. To be open is to love the person, even when we cannot love the actions.  Continue reading

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