One of the greatest gifts in the world is the ability to listen and observe. So much value information can be gathered simply by being quiet and still. You will find that when engaging others, people will sometimes reveal so many things about their personality and character through your silence. In fact, through your silence, you will open up the door for others to walk right in and enlighten you. Through listening, you will gain new perspectives, insight and ideals that would not have otherwise come.
I love talking to my 6 year old son, but what I love even more is listening to him. When I listen, my son shares so many of his innermost thoughts and feelings to me. His mind is always full of ideas and creativity and I want him to feel comfortable making those ideas a reality. A lot of parents are quick to tell their child to “Shut Up” or “Stop Talking”, but I want him to do the opposite. If my son loves to talk, then I will learn how to love to listen. Perhaps his love for talking could lead to future speaking opportunities as a politician, journalist, or maybe an actor.
Either way, I want my son to get in the habit of finding a positive outlet to express himself. As his father, it’s my job to help groom him and perfect whatever craft he decides to take on. Through observation, I’ve learned that my son likes to read, write, draw, act, dance, run and do gymnastics. Not only does he enjoy doing it, he’s actually great at it. By listening to his dreams and encouraging him, I establish myself as a go-to source for him to express himself.
One day I received a phone call from my son’s mother telling me that his teacher has requested a parent-teacher meeting. When I inquired as to what the meeting was about, she said that our son Ethan had been misbehaving more than usual and that it needed to be addressed. In my mind, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to talk with my son, and ask questions regarding what was going on. I was preparing my heart and mind to listen and get information as opposed to striking fear into his heart.
His mother went on to tell me that she had taken disciplinary actions literally into her own hands. As a man who was once physically disciplined by a woman (my mother), I know for certain that that is no way to get a young boy to open up. After expressing my experience with my mother as a child, we agreed that that type of disciplinary action would no longer take place and that we will use more positive ways to discipline our son. I had a flash back at that moment and I remembered how I would much rather a heart to heart conversation over a belt any day. My son had had enough, and I knew he was in no mood to talk, let alone give me access to his feelings.
I would wait until the weekend when the smoke is clear and he’s in a better mood, having totally forgotten about the recent occurrences at school. Not only was I preparing myself to remain calm and come up with the right words to say, I was also preparing myself for what I might hear. I didn’t want the answer that I would get during the moment when it was happening. That answer would only be enough to protect him from what was yet to come. I wanted the answer that was honest and true, and my strategy for doing so was to talk to him about it on his turf, but on my terms.
I would create a safe, loving environment and make him feel comfortable before I would ask him a few questions about his life at school. That’s the thing about raising children, they do have a life whether we parents want to admit it or not. I have no clue what goes on while my son is at school, but I still need to be in the know. To avoid my son closing himself off to me, I do my best to make him feel comfortable about telling the truth, while still enforcing disciplinary actions. It’s important for him to know that I’m here for him, to listen, to learn, and to encourage, however I am still his father and he will be held accountable for his actions.
What’s great about listening to your child is that they actually want to be open and honest with you, in most cases, they’re simply afraid of what might happen if they do. The time where they could make a mistake and be held by you went away when their diapers did. Or worst, the yelling, scolding and the beating is all the know, even from their diaper stages. Now the trust is broken, they don’t want to hurt you, and they don’t want you to hurt them. So now they’ve closed you off from the information that could bring you closer together and possibly even save their lives.
Paying attention to details mean taking special care of the things that matter to you in life. If you open up your heart, mind, eyes and ears, your listening will become that much more effective which will enhance the quality of your relationships. It’s easy to be present and hear what’s going on, but through listening you gain access to the heart of the matter. Getting the information you need through your listening skills will save you a great deal of time, energy, effort and money. It can cost you more than you bargained for if you’re not paying attention.
Listening has to be per-meditated in order for you to grasp the heart of the message. You have to be ready and willing to receive the information otherwise you will miss it. Have you ever overheard something someone else was saying that was either strange, unethical, or funny, but you needed to hear it again because you weren’t actually listening? That’s because your mind wasn’t fixed on registering the information you were about to receive. You weren’t prepared for it, therefore you had to spend more time having the message repeated, which more than likely would be watered down the second time you heard it.
When a person has to repeat themselves, it makes them feel as though you simply weren’t listening. In their mind, they’re thinking “I’ve just said it! Why should I repeat myself to someone who wasn’t listening in the first place”. Initially, they were enthused about sharing the information because they felt they were sharing it with someone who actually cared. After discovering that you weren’t really paying attention, it feels as though they are wasting their breath and their time. The last thing you want is for someone you care about to stop informing you on the details that make a difference in their lives.
This theory has the same effect in the workplace. When your boss give you instructions, clearly it’s because there are tasks that need to be delegated to you. If he had the time to do it himself, he probably wouldn’t be wasting his value time briefing you. To ensure that he feels you can be trusted with the tasks, be prepared whenever he calls you into his office or whenever he pops into yours. Stop whatever it is you are doing, open your heart, mind, eyes and ears and get ready to receive the information. He will respect the fact that you are giving him your undivided attention, and that you have a pen and pad ready, but also that you have a great attitude about listening to others.
I have a saying that goes “If you’re smarter than your boss, act dumber.”. I recall working for an employer years ago as an independent contractor, and I would handle literally all of the company’s business matters. I was hired merely to do the on/offline marketing, but my boss was convinced that I would be trusted to handle everything else. When he came on the premises, I would get the door, grab his bags, inform him on everything I had completed for the day and would eagerly ask for my next task. He would try his best not to smile, but he was thoroughly impressed with the time I was saving him simply by listening and following instructions.
I would listen to him talk about his dreams, goals and ideas, and would submit ways to help him them come into fruition. He would come up with a plan to make our next project even bigger, and I would submit money and time saving options that would benefit the company. He didn’t want to deal directly with clients because he wanted to focus more on the back end, which made me the guy on the forefront. He was full of bright ideas, all he needed was someone to listen to his plans and help him stay focused. Had I not listened to was going through his mind, I would’ve blocked myself off from valuable information which in turn would’ve blocked my success in the company.
There’s no debating that a woman loves it when a man listens, because women love to talk. Personally, I don’t have the time, energy or desire to wrack my brain trying to figure out the never ending possibilities of what a woman wants. I find it much easier to go directly to the source and gather information. If you listen to a woman, she will give you an idea of what she wants, leaving you the opportunity to creatively deliver. Not taking the time to listen to your lady will result in an unsatisfied woman because you didn’t take the time to listen and cater to her needs.
No matter whether it’s a job, a child, or a woman, there will always be a vast untapped mountain of truth and valuable information waiting for you to break it down. You won’t have to break it down by force, all you have to do is be willing to go through the process called listening. It will show in your eyes, body language and overall attitude how interested you are in what another person has to say. With the right attitude you can unlock the mysteries that continue to boggle your mind. With the wrong attitude, you will continue to block yourself off from life altering, life changing information.
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