Active Listening

A little Birdie Told Me (click here!)

Sometimes when I am talking to someone and I am really needing them to hear me and my perspective, I can feel them waiting to jump in with their advice before they really even understand where I am coming from.

I have been on both sides of this conversation.  I have been interrupted many times with a solution that I didn’t ask for and if they had taken the time to really hear me, they would know this didn’t fit.   I have also been guilty of wanting to fix the problem for someone else, jumping in myself with the answer and seeing the disappointment when they hadn’t been heard.

I strive to be a good listener.  Mostly people just want to be heard.  They want us to know how they suffer and how they struggle with their inner demons and outer demands.  Mostly people want to hear, “That sucks!” or “Wow, that sounds really hard.”  before they can hear any kind of helpful ideas.

When we listen, we really listen, we hear our loved ones pain.  We can see their inner child reaching out for compassion.  Their words tell a beautiful story.  If you can hear the specific words a person chooses, you can see their perspective.  You can see what drives them.  If you listen closely, you can hear how they talk to themselves.  Sometimes that is very sad.

Nothing is more irritating than the husband who is pretending to listen.  Many scenarios follow, but I don’t like any of them.  One, he agrees to something he has no idea he just agreed to.  Two, you can tell he is not listening by the one syllable responses, the monotone voice or the dazed look in his eyes.  A big clue is when he is falling asleep when you are talking.

I learned a long time ago, when my daughter was a teeny bopper, if she was having  a tantrum, she just wanted to be heard.  She didn’t want any logical perspective or advice.  She just wanted to hear that it sucked and for me to mirror her anger or despair.  I could spend an hour trying to talk sense into her and she would get more and more frustrated, or I could listen and say almost nothing and she would calm down and figure out the perfect solution for herself.

Whew!  It took me a long time to learn that.  My husband taught me that.  When she would be laying on her bed crying, he would go in there and lay next to her, put his arm around her and not say a word.  Pretty soon, she would stop crying and all would be well.  That was a powerful lesson for me.

Nowadays, I try to be a good listener and catch myself before I interrupt.  Hmm… maybe the next one can be about the difference between being “hard of hearing” or “hard of listening”.  😉

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