Hello, friends and family!! Throughout my childhood, I have heard of certain games that take a minute to learn and a lifetime to master. In conversation, listening can be described in the same way. Some think that listening is simply the courtesy to remain silent when someone else is speaking. However, my spiel on listening goes way beyond that. Not only do I think good listeners do things that many others don’t, but I also think that quality listening is a catalyst for unlocking deeper communication and understanding. In a separate train of thought, I have a theory that effective communication leads to greater understanding which leads to a more satisfying coexistence between virtually anyone. But for now, let us focus on listening, which is at the foundation of effective communication.
I realize that I have been blessed with many amazing listeners in my life. Each of my siblings and two best friends come to mind, but there are others. They know when to speak up and when to be quiet. They know which questions to ask and how to interject. They know how to read the mood of the conversation, whether comical or cheerful, sorrowful or insightful. I also appreciate my listeners’ perceived undivided attention. Sometimes it is an audible laugh or sigh. Sometimes it is their facial reactions. Sometimes it is the act of silencing their phones and putting them away. Another aspect is time: these listeners seem to know how to casually, albeit assertively, end the conversation when appropriate. If they have to end the conversation, they mention it early enough to wrap things up rather than wandering off mid-thought or cutting me off mid-sentence. If it is me that has to end the conversation, they do not ramble on until the bitter end. Debates remain civil, confessions confidential, stories concise and deliberate. Good listening is not just waiting for a turn to speak, but to absorbing and processing words and sentences until then. Good listening requires focus and concentration. These qualities can be hard to find in any one person, let alone appreciated by another. It is a gift that money cannot buy and only the lucky ones get to enjoy. In this way, I feel like I have won the Listener Lottery.
When a conversation flows well, richer dialogue is generated. Unsolicited advice is kept to a minimum and periodic tangents are welcome. It is through these sessions of chit-chat that lifelong bonds are formed. Moreover, a good listener can be an outlet for when a person needs to vent, which could help alleviate frustration and stress for someone going through tough times. In essence, a good listener is like a workout buddy for someone’s mental fitness, whereas a therapist is akin to a personal trainer. I would love to be this kind of workout buddy to my wife and two daughters. I want to form this bond with them and provide them with tools to strengthen their mental sharpness in this way. I have seen the benefits of having great conversations with great listeners, maybe others can too.
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