Like a dream it remains elusive!
Returning to the word of the day, today’s word is elusive.
Watching the democratic convention reminded me that often listening is elusive. I watched the Bernie Sander’s delegates as they complained to the news that they did not feel their voice were heard. But even as one woman started to explain why, the newscaster interrupted and the moment was lost. In the end, her voice was still not heard.
We so often forget that listening does not mean agreeing. Listening does not mean accepting. Listening is the process of hearing another person’s point of view. In my experience, that important step can make a huge difference in how the other person feels and relates.
For example, so many times I start to explain something to my husband, and he sometimes interrupts assuming he knows what I am going to say. Even when he gets it right, I still feel unheard because I didn’t get to speak or finish my thought. I needed/wanted him to listen, not to think he understood, but to really just listen to the complete thought. I wanted him to understand, not agree.
I have come to realize that often listening is such a gift. When I have been listened to and the other person has reflected back what I said, I have felt empowered. Sometimes it helps me think more carefully about what I am saying and to determine a new path. Sometimes, it helps me feel relieved and comforted. Even when the other person disagrees, I feel satisfied when there is understanding.
Understanding is so often elusive. Listening is a tool to reach an understanding. This is why I am so passionate about listening. I love the idea of listening. I strive to improve my own skills remembering how important it was.
I was relieved to watch the convention this evening. The vote count and the decision to have the count read into the record was a step towards recognizing the needs of Bernie’s supporters. It was an important symbol to help those supporters gain closure and feel heard. It was an act of acknowledgment they so needed.
For me, small steps towards understanding are the most important steps we can make towards building effective relationships.
Here are today’s tips for listening:
- Let them finish their sentence. Don’t jump in and interrupt and if you do and they look frustrated, back off and let them finish.
- Reflect back their own words carefully and with a question in your voice that says, “Is this what you mean?”
- Summarize what they said. You can say, “OK so I am clear about what you are saying, here is a summary of what you said. (Give summary) Is this right? That last question is so important.
Find someone today to listen to. Don’t let understanding be elusive.
The painting of the featured image is by Tricia Calvert. You can find her work on instagram.