Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Power of Listening

The Hidden Power of Listening:  At the beginning of the year, I set a Kindness Resolution for myself, because I wanted to challenge myself to show God's love in a more tangible way this year.  Throughout the year, I've renewed my resolution and God has been teaching me new lessons about kindness.  One thing that God has been teaching me lately is that I needed to be a better listener.   I've got a couple of mentors who are some of the best listeners that I've ever met.  Yesterday, I came across a blog post about the Hidden Power of Listening. The writer was talking about some misconceptions that she had of people who appeared to be quiet. She used Jackie Kennedy as an example. To her Mrs Kennedy didn't appear to have much to say and when she did her voice was almost a whisper. The blogger said that her friend interviewed Jackie Kennedy and found her to be calculated and wise. He told the blogger that she wasn't just quiet she was listening and taking in everything that went on around her, and when she spoke her answers may have been quiet but she chose her words carefully and you'd find yourself really listening and putting more weight on what she had to say than the rest of the political hub bub swirling around them. As I'm reading this I'm seeing that while my personality is a bit different from Mrs Kennedy's I really could learn a lot from her example. Of all of the times I've gotten myself in trouble it's usually because I spoke before I really thought about what I was saying. The blogger ultimately decided to challenge herself to a weekend of listening and modified silence. Here is a bit of what she learned, and a bit of what I'm learning as well.

I'm finding that one of the greatest kindnesses that we can give to the people in our lives is to be fully present and to be aware and sensitive to what's going on in their lives through genuinely listening to what they are saying. There were several times while reading the article that I found myself laughing outloud, because I see a lot of similarities in the writer and myself. At one point she said that if a transcriptionist where to try to write down a normal conversation between she and her friends that the transcriptionist would be overwhelmed to tears. Maybe that's not you, but for me some conversations are so filled with high energy randomness that I wonder if I'm really listening to what is being said. Am I fully engaged and present in the conversation, or am I more concerned with what my next witty comment is going to be. Difficult lesson, eh? During her Listening Challenge, the writer said she noticed that her conversations with her friends during this time were richer. She was able to really be there for her friend and give her the advice that she needed which ultimately gave her insight into her own life as well. On the third evening she attended a reunion dinner and came across a woman that she met in college that she perceived to be icy and fierce - basically intimidating. She said at first glance nothing seemed to have changed. Somehow the blogger ended up seated near her and because she was taking time to really listen to the woman she realized how much she had misjudged her. The writer was able to draw the woman out with her questions and her pauses to listen and she let her guard down and revealed her insecurities and worries. Ultimately they had a great healing conversation that never would have happend if the writer hadn't taken the time to really invest in a conversation with her. People aren't always as they appear to be, and I'm learning that I need to be more sensitive and observant to those around me.

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