Good Listeners

January 29, 2015

Before I sit down to write in the morning I read bits and pieces, then I go for a walk with Riley. I listen to the sounds around me and the thoughts circling around in my head. When I return I am still for a spell before I settle in with a pen and paper and sweet Miss Riley at my feet. What has my attention today is the art of being a good listener.

Yesterday I read a Facebook post with quotes from a Lakota Indian chief….

Silence was meaningful with the Lakota, and his granting a space of silence before talking was done in the practice of true politeness and regardful of the rule that “thought comes before speech”..and in the midst of sorrow, sickness, death or misfortune of any kind, and in the presence of the notable and great, silence was the mark of respect…”

Then I read a lesson from Six Minutes to Success with this quote, “Whenever we begin to answer a person before the person finishes their point, we are both foolish and rude.”  In fact, Bob Proctor urged his readers to write out 100 times, “Listen before speaking. Listen before speaking. Listen before speaking.”

Many years ago, when Brittany and my niece, Meaghan, were in their early teens, my sister and I took them to Atlantic City, New Jersey for a Dixie Chicks concert. We gave the girls this February concert as part of their Christmas gift. We all boarded a train from Charlottesville in the morning that arrived in Atlantic City mid-afternoon. None of us had been there  before, so we quickly checked in to the hotel, deposited our bags in the room and set out to see a bit of the city on foot before our concert that night. We were staying in the hotel that was also the concert venue.

We headed out the front door of the hotel, chatting away and telling the girls to stay together and stay close to my sister and I. Kim and I were looking at a map, trying to figure out directions to a diner we had read about and wanted to try. We were distracted, but I vaguely remember Brittany trying to get our attention. She finally grabbed my coat sleeve and screamed,  “Listen to me! Look there’s the Dixie Chicks!” Sure enough, the band had just gotten off their bus. We caught a glimpse of them as they were headed into the hotel lobby.

It was too late to get autographs. We missed the window of opportunity, so we walked on to the diner. As we ate, Brittany said, “You never listen to me.” We laughed at the fact that we had gone all this distance to see 3 ladies on stage and we missed our golden moment to see them up close and personal because we weren’t listening to Britt.

That gave us a good story to tell later, but it also made an impact on me. My child thought I “never listened” to her.

One Father’s Day Brittany Hope made a poster of sorts for her dad. She put pictures of herself and a picture of the two of them around the border of a poem she copied from her Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul book. Here is that poem…..

Please Listen
When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
You have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me
why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem,
you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.

All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – Just hear me.
Advice is cheap; 20 cents will get
you both Abby and Billy Graham
in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering
but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince you
and get about this business of understanding
what’s behind this irrational feeling.
And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious
and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense
when we understand what’s behind them.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works – sometimes –
for some people, because God is mute,
and he doesn’t give advice or try to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.

So please listen, and just hear ME.
And if you want to talk,
wait a minute for your turn,
and I will listen to you.

Author Unknown

Maybe that’s how you’re feeling today? Please feel free to write to me or send this message to someone who hears the words coming from your mouth but isn’t really listening. Maybe you just need them to sit with you in silence? Tell them. I HOPE your voice is heard today.

Riley is such a great listener!

With love,