Aren't you? Imagine what it's like when you are bursting with news and have no one to share with. Or maybe life has delivered a heavy blow and you just need to be held – perhaps literally – but certainly figuratively by being listened to.
Yet, how often do we move through the activities of our days: driving, shopping, making meals, doing our job, saying “Hi” and even “How are you?” to friends and family members … without really being present to the moment and their response? We often intentionally don't engage in conversation with the person next to us in line, the cashier at the store, the janitor in our office building. And, if the other person asks something of us, how often do we think (and sometimes say), “I don't have time for this.” What are we putting out into the world when we half-heartedly talk to someone while thinking “I don't have time for this!”?
I would love to say that I have never been guilty of “physically present, mentally and/or emotionally in another country” … but I have. In fact, when my children were young, I venture to guess this could have been 50% of the time – or more! Not something I am proud of. And, while as a coach I've learned a lot about deep listening, it is my 27 year old son who just recently taught me a very big lesson. I overheard a phone conversation that went something like this:
Can't I talk to a person? I want to make an appointment to give blood. No … don't connect me to the voice tree! HANG UP. CALL BACK. I just called. I want to make an appointment with a real live human being.
Once he was assured that the person would stay on the line, I heard him ask how they were, laugh, delight in simple connection with another human being. It was a powerful example for which I am very grateful. Now, each time I call to get information or make an appointment, I try to remember to ask “How are you?” or to notice that I was “on hold forever” and comment, “You must be so busy today … how are you?”
Yet what a gift we give when we share our heart with another through 100% presence, listening, caring! In his keynote, “People are Dying to be Heard”, Ben Merens of Wisconsin Public Radio's At Issue invites us to consider this deeply and become willing to make a difference in people's lives through the simple gift of our undivided attention.
He goes on to remind us to listen to ourselves, our inner voices, our inner truth. Even if we give ourselves only a few minutes a day first thing in the morning, this sends a message to our spirit that we matter. And, it is a natural side-effect of personal experience that, when we some to value something, we are more likely to give it away! When we show ourselves that we matter by taking the time to listen to our inner voice, or by asking another to be with us and simply listen, in turn we naturally begin to extend that gift to those around us.
Try it! Prove it to yourself! Start by offering yourself the gift of Ben's message as delivered to Unity of Appleton on April 29, 2012 (and Part II). Follow that with a very special piece of music written and performed by Jana Stanfield:
If You'll Just Listen To Me (recording)
If you still aren't convinced, take a deep breath. Consider making a commitment to notice. For a day or two, maybe a week, just notice the many people that cross your path. What percentage of them do you talk to? Have a thought about? Have a relationship with? Then, consider asking:
I wonder what that person is thinking?
I wonder what makes them happy?
I wonder what weighs heavy on their heart?
Then, when you are good and ready, take your experiment public – ask them! Maybe you start with the person ringing up your groceries. You see their nametag. You ask:
How are you today, Mary?
What time do you get to go home, John?
More than anything, take time then to listen to your heart.
What does it feel like to acknowledge someone?
What does it feel like to be greeted in return?
What energy is in the space because you listened?