How often do you formulate what you are going to say while someone else is talking? How often do you truly listen to what the other individual is saying to you? How often do you check out, get bored, or have too many other things going on in your brain? I am definitely known to have way to much going on in my brain, to the extent that sometimes the words that come out of my mouth sound like babble and do not make sense to others. Maybe it is information overload.
We all could listen more, but we can also talk less. They go hand in hand. It makes me ask the questions: “Do you listen to get to the next part of your day, do you truly care when listening, and do you talk to talk and be heard, or because you have something to say? Sometimes I think that some people talk to fill the open space. They are uncomfortable with silence, and quiet moments, so they do what they can to fill that silence, to fill that space. However awkward it might be, for them and everyone else.
Here is a thought (not grand, or new, or cutting edge). What if you listen more? Truly and intensely listen. Ask questions. Explore if you truly understand what someone else is saying and take the focus off you. Hard? Yes. Worth it? Yes. I care about each individual I interact with and I want them to feel that care. I genuinely want to listen, and I want others to give me the same respect and focus. Is that so hard? Are we asking each other to do too much? Hell no. We just need to get rid of our brainless distractions and “be” with another. Listen, go deep, be present, and get rid of mindless chatter, pointless conversation, and focus on what really matters.
I am going to make it a focus to keep working on how I listen. Let my mind slow down from all the elements of multitasking, breathe, and be in the moment where I truly focus on the other individual and give them my time.
The first day of school. It always had a degree of dread and a degree of excitement. What was my teacher going to be like? What would it be like to see and reconnect with different friends? How had people changed over the summer? How would we all fit together in this new year and new adventure?
The first day of school is very much like the first day of a new job. You may have no idea what your world is going to be like. While the job might be similar to your last role, the people, the leadership, and the team dynamics can make your day-to-day light years different. It is good for us to have these moments of change, newness and growth. That does not mean, however, that it is easy or that being the newbie comes naturally to any of us.
Just like the first day of school is like the first day of a new job, the bullying and politics that happen in school happen in the professional world. Individuals have agendas, sometimes you get picked first and sometimes you get picked last. There is competition, and sometimes that means that those you thought had your back, really do not. The only difference between school and a job, is being a kid and being an adult. Somehow we are all learning more about ourselves. What we are willing to stand up for and what makes us keep our mouth shut.
Since the school year is about to start, what are you going to do differently? Just because you might be in the same job for the last year or years does not mean you have to be stuck in a rut. Think of August as your new year. Who are you going to befriend or be less afraid of? Who are you going to stand up to? Get out your Trapper Keeper and start doodling. Come up with three ways you are going to change. Mine are:
_Listen more, talk less
What will yours be? Trapper Keeper, iPad, or old-school typewriter… make a note and decide: What are you going to stand for?
Sometimes short and sweet makes an idea stick. I have been thinking about my actions and the actions of others. So often we are let down because of what others tell us they are going to do, and then they let us down. Maybe they do not follow through with what they told us they would do, (you know when it is just lip service). Or maybe it is the complete opposite, maybe they do not talk often but they show you their true being by what they did (or did not do). A recent blog post from Seth Godin, that was short and sweet really made me think:
“Two ways to listen
You can listen to what people say, sure.
But you will be far more effective if you listen to what people do.”
What if we started talking less (I am the first to say I need to do this) and watch our actions more? Does what we do matter more than what we say? Does showing someone we love them stick more than saying the words: “I love you”?
Do we really listen to what people do? What someone does shows intent and often leaves a lasting impact where words can sometimes be forgotten. It does not mean that words are completely lost, but what you experience with another is often hard to forget. It is why the phase: “actions speak louder than words” is so common to say, but do we often think about that when we take action? Probably not, but we should.
Listening to what people do is also an act of patience, so is listening to what people say. Listening to what people do just takes more conscious effort. When someone is standing before you there is more of an obligation to focus on them, make eye contact, and give them your time as you listen to them talk. There is no obligation to listen to what people do. That takes another layer of effort and care. You probably listen more to someone’s actions when you feel you have been wronged, but do you listen when they do something good? My hunch is that we all can do better to share our gratitude for others when we listen and see the good they have brought to our life.
Here is to a week of more active listening. Thank you, Seth.