At a friend’s request several years ago, I chose one word to concentrate on throughout an entire calendar year. My 2012 word was peace. In 2013 I chose the word focus. Last year my 2014 word was truth. Each word has been enlightening, engaging and eye-opening.
It’s been a busy several weeks for me but I want to go on the record with my chosen word for 2015.
Not only do I enjoy talking a lot and appreciate a good active listener, I also started a new job at a call center which requires careful listening. The people who call me are in some level of crisis in their homes, typically burst pipes, theft, fire, or storm damage. They deserve someone who will listen with empathy and skill.
My first obvious challenge with this word is to begin actively listening instead of finishing people’s sentences, which I only do as a helpful service.
some many most people don’t like it. Also? Sometimes I’m waaayy off.
Webster’s Dictionary defines listen this way:
1. to make a conscious effort to concentrate on hearing something or somebody
2. to pay attention and take something into account.
Hearing and listening are not the same thing.
I am discovering moments where the word LISTEN practically blinks in my mind, preventing me from interrupting and instead valuing the other person’s time, thought and input by allowing them to continue their train of thought to completion. It’s like I’m learning how to listen–really listen–for the first time.
I am slowly learning that listening at my job and in my home are reaping great benefits. I’m learning a lot more about the people I listen to. When I actively listen, I show them they are important and worth my full attention and time. Listening avoids mistakes and helps solve problems. Trust and respect increase. Well, most of the time.
It is also very telling how quickly I get distracted, want to interrupt, or make wrong assumptions. And sometimes I get so wrapped up in what I am doing that I acknowledge verbally, only to be reminded later that I wasn’t listening. Like, at all.
Take for example just now when my kid told me something but I was distracted by writing this post on listening.
But it is only February. I have 10 more months to improve.
What helps you listen?