The Gift of Listening
By Lynn Cutts
Give something different this Valentine's Day instead of chocolate or flowers. (Save the chocolate for me.) Give something precious and unique, something that only you can give. Something suitable for all ages and all relationships. Give the gift of listening. Really listening.
How often do we sit down and listen to our loved ones? The vast majority of our conversations with others occur while we are doing something else. We're driving, or cooking dinner or tidying up. We're watching TV or listening to both kids and the dog. We're preoccupied with our own thoughts. Or we just tune the conversation completely out. Our mental processes go like this:
Hmm, I like that song on the radio. I wonder who does it? I wish he'd get rid of that shirt. It's a bad color for him. Oh, dang, I just broke a nail. I wonder what I should fix for dinner? Is he still talking about the car? Yup. Why doesn't he just get it fixed? I don't get what's the big deal here.
Of course, sometimes we do sit down and pay attention, or so we think. While we are focused on the conversation, it's usually with the goal of coming up with the next clever thing to say, or a killer argument to the point being made.
What does it mean to really listen? It means paying attention to what the other person is saying, without being distracted by outside events, our thoughts, or planning what to say next. It brings improved connection, communication and understanding to any relationship. It tells the other person that they matter; that you care enough about them to make them a priority, a focus. It lets them know that they are more important to you than washing dishes or fixing supper. Now that's a real gift.
Like everything else in life, listening is a skill. It takes practice. Here are a few guidelines that might help:
Following those nine guidelines will drastically improve your listening skills. Which will drastically improve communication. Which will drastically improve your relationships. And that's a Valentine's gift that will keep on giving - both to the other person and to you.
About The Author
Chocolate-loving Life Coach Lynn Cutts mission is to change the world for the better, one person at a time. She shares free tips, articles, games and newsletters to help you realize your dreams. Lynn offers one-on-one coaching, group coaching and self-guided programs to help you create your own boundless life. Lynn is certified by the Coaches Training Institute, and is a member of the International Coaches Federation.
NOTE: You are welcome to use this article online in electronic newsletters and e-zines as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the "about the author" info). If use of this article is desired in print, you must first contact Lynn Cutts at Lynn@ManageYourMuse.com.
Copyright 2005 Lynn Cutts