“Listen my children and you shall hear, some words you better hold so dear.” ~Mr. Rosser, circa 1981
Ever since my 8th grade teacher Mr. Rosser uttered these words, I have needed constant reminders to listen. I much prefer being listened to.
Do you want to hear a secret?
Do you promise not to tell
oh oh oh oh closer
Let me whisper in your ear
My 2015 word has served me well this year. I have received many reminders to LISTEN, sometimes from a still small voice within and other times from the people around me.
One new skill that I have noticed developing this year is the intentional hesitation to chime in. I have realized, perhaps for the first time ever, that just because I have something to say, does not require that I do so. This is a revelation to me—having an unexpressed thought. For me this has become a huge part of listening, since the pause allows someone else the chance to speak up–quite often someone who will add something of great value.
Careful before you say, “Listen to me.” ~Into the Woods
This holding back does NOT come naturally to me and requires a whopping dose of focus, self-control and patience. Sometimes it even means allowing an awkward silence.
Listen to your heart/when it’s calling for you
Listen to your heart/there’s nothing else you can do
I don’t know where you’re going and I don’t know why
Listen to your heart before you tell him good-bye.
I have realized something else while attempting to listen well this year. Although I may attempt to relate to others and read their emotions in any scenario, often I am wrong in my assumptions. We may indeed feel and express sympathy more easily than true empathy for others when the one sharing triggers a similar experience or memory within us — but no two experiences are the same.
Empathy requires focused listening to figure out what the other person needs — which very well may differ greatly from what the listener assumes is needed, especially if a situation is not something the listener has ever experienced.
Listen to the mandolin rain/Listen to the music on the lake
Listen to my heart break/every time she runs away
Listen to the banjo wind/Sad song drifting low
Listen to the tears flow/down my face as she turns to go
I also realized something new in my quest to be a quality listener. When I need someone to listen to me, especially to help me solve a problem–either personally or professionally — I can simply ask someone who is knowledgeable for the help I need for any situation and quickly get an answer or an opinion. However, sometimes my preference is to discuss or learn how to do something in addition to getting the immediate answers. Greater still is the process of developing a relationship throughout the learning process–whether a friendship, a mentor, or cooperative creative endeavors. I enjoy asking different people for assistance and hypotheticals and I take time to consider who I will approach based on what they know as well as how they relate and communicate to me and my learning process. This is a powerful awareness!
Reading may be the ultimate form of listening–so thank you, readers, for generously and graciously sharing your time with me by listening to my thoughts here on the Automatic7 blog. May you all be heard and listen well!