We spend our lives believing we have to talk to impress people. We spend more of our lives thinking about what to say next even if what comes out of our mouths is an emotional reaction to what we just heard.
By doing so we are missing out on the best that life has to offer. For at middle age, I have learned to appreciate the cues that the world sends me. Cues come to us in a whole lot of ways and we use a variety of senses to pick up on them. Listening and seeing are obviously two of the most important. The third tool that is generally needed is intuition. However, if we are always talking, trying to get our own point of view across we are less likely to pick up on these cues and more likely to miss opportunities.
The same can be said if we are constantly looking inward and fail to consider our relationships and the needs of others.
To listen well and often, takes wisdom as Oliver Wendell Holmes alluded to in this wonderful quote:
To pickup on cues, it is not enough to be knowledgable it is also necessary to be wise. And more often than not, it is necessary to still the rehearsal of our own impending performance in our head.
Listening to others is the first requirement of understanding. There is no better compliment you can pay someone in this day and age than to give them the benefit of your full attention. It’s part of the reason that therapy and counselling thrives, sometimes all that is needed is to feel that one has been heard. Therapists, counsellors and best friends know that validation can only come from within and by active listening and strategic questioning they will lead you to find your own answers and that validation. I think the same philosophy applies in a marriage. The feeling that you are listened to by your spouse is fundamental to relationship longevity.
I will admit to being an expressive. Never shy about coming forward in a business meeting or in public speaking, it has served me relatively well to date. But I can now see bigger value in just sitting back and listening more often than speaking. This insight has led me to see that more often than not, it’s the same people always doing the talking and therefore the opportunity for new ideas and progressive input is unnecessarily limited. A great leader knows how to listen and to empower even the wall flowers in the team to share their ideas. It is no different in social circles. Sadly, it doesn’t happen too often, probably because we tend to equate talking with power or more importantly silence with weakness. Neither is actually the case.
I have also found that listening has another dimension, that of listening to yourself. We all need to strategize about the decisions that need to be made in our own lives. And we need the physical and head space to do this. We need to stop listening to the noise of business (laundry, cooking, cleaning, car maintenance etc) once in a while and focus on the strategic issues that will affect the bigger direction of our lives. Busy will get you through the next day or week, but strategic will determine the road ahead and create the platform for your busyness. We cannot work out life goals, priorities and identities unless we give ourselves permission to listen to our heads, our hearts and work out the questions we need to ask ourselves. At least I can’t. I need to stop my external talking and find the space to process all the inputs and self-dialogue.
So space to listen and process is not a luxury it is a necessity and I have given myself permission to create it.
Listening is not a weakness. We will not be measured by the number of words we speak, but the impact of them. Blogging is a case in point.
Today I give myself permission to listen.
13 thoughts on “Today I Give Myself Permission to Listen #atozchallenge”
Great post. I need to be a more active listener. It’s easy to be passive, thinking about what I want to say next rather than really hearing what the person is saying. I find it much easier to be an active listener on a professional level than a personal one. Good reminder for all of us.
We could all use lessons in listening!
I have always been a good listener—in business. Funny, how we forget sometimes, when we get home—and somedays, all hell breaks loose and we forget.
Another fan-tab-u-lous post.
I think I love you…..
I’m waiting for retirement, when I can finally say whatever I want to and people will let me get away with it because I’m old. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.
It started with ‘…still the impending rehearsal…’ and then there were so many other quotable sentences in this piece, I thought I would just share that learning a new language is the best exercise I have ever done to really learn to listen, that rehearsal is hard to perform in a foreign language and the only way to truly grasp what is going on is to have all your senses switched on… People often thought I was much better at Danish then I was at first, I used to say it was because I understood people, especially one of my bonus children (6 y.o at the time) talked constantly, he couldn’t quite work out that we spoke different languages because I really tried to listen and understand what he was saying 🙂
I’m a bit on Kellie’s side 😉 Another great post Jude, yes as I have ‘matured’ I have toned down my need to be heard quite so much and listen, but if needed – watch out this lady can ROAR! 🙂 xx
Excellent post. I need to do more listening. Thanks for the reminder and great to meet you in the A to Z.
A2Z Mommy And What’s In between
I’m fortunate to be part of a women’s group that has helped me to hone my listening skills. I feel I was a decent listener before that, though, because both job and pastimes required me to speak up a lot. I was – and still am – grateful to be the listener rather than the speaker. That said, I don’t hesitate to speak up when it’s called for, or when I’m compelled to. Wonderful post.
Great post. This is a topic about which I write a lot from the perspective of conflict management. Just in case you’d ever like some practical suggestions on what to listen for in a conflict, check out this post: http://www.conflicttango.com/five-things-to-listen-for-during-a-conflict/
A to Z’er,
Thanks for this reminder! Such common sense, but it’s amazing how most people don’t listen in an open way.
Can L mean LATE?
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