The Art of Listening
I like people; in fact, I’m so interested in them, that when they share something with me, I can always come up with a sympathetic story of my own to share. Sometimes, I care so much I go ahead and give them advice, too.
That makes me a great listener, right?
Hmmm…I guess not. As I’ve come to understand, sympathetic sharing and the giving of advice isn’t listening. It’s sharing and giving advice – and generally someone who needs “an ear” is NOT looking for either thing.
I wish I could say that I’ve come to this understanding on my own and that the journey has been smooth, but that’s just not true. For as many times as I’ve complained to my husband because a friend or relative didn’t LISTEN to me the way I wanted or needed, he’s let me know that I’ve stepped on his toes by interrupting (why doesn’t he just speak faster then?) or by offering him advice when he, too, just needed to vent (I didn’t know men did that).
All joking aside, I do believe that truly listening is one of the most special gifts you can offer another person. When I am operating as my best self, I try to listen to others as I would like to be listened to in return. I try to listen with:
A non-judgmental attitude
The belief that the speaker has the skills necessary to resolve their own issues.
How about you? How do you listen?