But then I remember how incredibly skilled I am at forgetting names, eight seconds after the person has introduced themselves. I am also an expert at allowing my mind to wander off and think about a million other things RIGHT in the middle of an important conversation.
This leads me to believe that I have some serious work to do when it comes to my listening skills. It’s not that I don’t care what people have it say, it’s that my mind rarely slows down. I suddenly focus in on what a great outfit the person is sporting, and I’m trying to pinpoint where I can find that shirt, but in a different color to go with my skin tone. Or I find myself zoning in on a word or phrase that the person said, and taking mental notes about what comment I should make about that topic. (I like to think this is me being an “active listener” but let’s be real…)
Or perhaps, the worst is when someone just needs a listening ear and some affirmation, and I keep trying to do this…
Sometimes the best medicine (aside from laughter) is to listen. And listening can mean a multiple of things, but one thing it ALWAYS requires is talking less. Less problem solving, less explanations, and less storytelling. More focus, more understanding, more empathy, and more attentiveness.
This article discusses the value of listening into people’s eyes, and it begins with this quote by Dr. Edwin Shneidman:
“When you listen for the pain, hurt and fear in people, it is always there.
And when people sense you doing that with no other motive than to alleviate all of those,
they will lower their walls and reveal them to you.”
I love this quote because it speaks to the truth that showing genuine interest in another human being is incredibly disarming. Listening is true act of selflessness, and one that is not valued enough.
The article goes on to discuss that listening to the eyes of others, is a sure way to communicate (without having to talk) that you truly desire to learn, understand, and know the other person. When we turn our attention to another individual and have ears to hear not just their words, but their eyes, we see and hear and feel so much more deeply. Do you think it’s possible to be more attentive to the eyes of others while their speaking, and still be labeled as an “active listener”?