Do you really listen when someone is talking to you? Or do you try to fix or solve the problem they are having instead? Do you hear what they are saying or do you hear what you think they are going to say?
We are ALL guilty of not listening from time to time. The excuses are many, “Oh I’ve heard this before”, or “I think I can fix this for them, so why listen”, or “I’ve really got so much to do I don’t have time for this.” Any of these sound familiar?
I am extremely guilty of the “let me fix/solve this for you” syndrome. Yes I’m a “fixer”, just asked my friends and family. I have been working on reforming my “fixing habit” over the last year and I’m finding that listening has become much easier.
What started me on my reformed journey? A good friend. Here’s how it went; I got a call from a friend who was telling me about a problem they were having and of course I’m “fixing” instead of listening. When I start into my “fix it” speech, this wonderful friend says, “Shut up, I just want you to listen, not fix my problem.” Wow, that got my attention and started me on my “reformed” listening path. Have I always stayed true to this path? No, but I work on it every day. It had become a habit, this “fixing” thing so to make that change stick I have to attend to it daily.
So are you listening or fixing? Try this out the next time someone is talking to you and you find that your “listening” is wandering. Take slow deep breaths and really focus on what is being said to you. Before you answer, take another deep breath and think about that answer. Is it a “listening or fixing” answer? The breath will give you the chance to monitor where the answer is coming from and to adjust if you need to.
Another problem we have with listening is our inability to listen to ourselves. I’m not talking about the negative chatter in your head, I’m referring to listening to your body or hearing the positive thoughts that do run through your mind. Our ability to listen to ourselves is very telling about how well we can listen to others. Why would you think that you are a good listener if you ignore the signs that your body or mind are giving you? You have to be your best audience first before you become an “audience” for someone else.
Will you start on your “reformed” listening path today? If so, I would love to hear your challenges and victories so we can all celebrate the art of listening together.