Stop, Look, Ask, Listen, Hear

“Listening is one of the loudest forms of kindness.” Anonymous

I sat down last week to write a blog about being a good listener and giving others our full attention and, wouldn’t you know, I was personally put to the test over the weekend and I failed. On several occasions, I found myself engaging in conversations with friends but not really listening to their responses because I was listening to the conversations around me. Ugh! 

Our presence is the greatest gift we can give someone.

Blocking out distractions, releasing the habit of operating in overdrive and disconnecting from technology and social media and focusing on ONE thing, others and yourself is a gift that should be given out often.  

One Mouth, Two Ears

We often forget that we have one mouth and two ears, which means we should listen twice as much as we speak. In our chronically stressed and often overwhelming world, many of us hardly find the time to give the gift of our presence to people (let alone ourselves!). We see “busy” as a sign of significance and wear “busyness” like it’s a badge of honor.  This has got to stop. 

Let’s quit taking ourselves so seriously and give others attention. Here are a few basic things we can do instead:

  • Stop: Pausing from what you’re doing acknowledges to the other person that they are important.
  • Look: Looking at another person and giving them your full face is important. A full face is a face that is looking the other person in the eyes and not looking beyond them at something else.
  • Ask: Asking meaningful open-ended questions promotes conversation and allows you both to get to know each other.
  • Listen: Listening means you’re giving thoughtful attention and consideration to what the person is saying.
  • Hear: Hearing is collecting data and using it as a launch off for more conversation. It tells the person that you’re taking in what they’re saying and applying it to the future conversations.

Connect with people, not devices. Have a no-technology rule and choose not to have your phone with you when you’re with others (or at least have it on silent). Turn your notices and ringer off. Unplugging is good for the soul and great for relationships. 

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.” Will Rogers

Why Listening is Important

Imagine if we all listened to each other more. The world could possibly become a better place. Conversations would be genuine. Hurt feelings would be fleeting, and conflicts and misunderstandings would be rare. There are a few basic reasons why listening is important: 

  • People want to be heard. We all have something to say and telling it to someone is a fundamental need of human beings.
  • People want to be understood. We want to know: Was that OK? Do you see me? Did what I say mean anything to you?
  • People want to feel your compassion. Compassion is caring for another person’s struggles or problems. When we listen well, we show people we care about what they are going through.

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” Anonymous

There’s more to listening than just sitting there and “halfway” paying attention; it’s about being fully engaged with that other person and letting them feel validated while they express themselves to you. People need us more than we know. Pull up a chair, scoot a little closer, lean in, and listen to them.  

How about you? 

  • If you rated yourself on a scale from 1-10 (poor to great) what number would you give yourself?  
  • Do you have people around you that make you feel heard? 

Reach out to me if you need someone in your corner to listen to you, to make you feel heard and understood. I’d love to lend you an ear.

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