30 Days of Christmas Giving: The Gift of Listening
Do you think listening to others is a gift? Well, I can assure you that it is. One of my most significant challenges in life is listening, and I am pretty confident that my family will be the first to admit it. Having self-diagnosed ADD and continuously multitasking, I know I only hear half of what is said to me. Most recently, I noticed that I was not listening to my son, so I stopped what I was doing and focused all of my attention on him. Believe it or not, he was appreciative and I felt really good. How many times, have I only half-listened to a conversation? How much have I been missing? I just read a great book by Matthew Kelly, “Resisting Happiness,” and one of the chapters is titled Learning How to Listen. So I would like to share the simple things in this book that helped me listen.
- Make eye contact with the person speaking. If you don’t make eye contact it signals to the speaker that you are not interested in what they are saying.
- Listen with your body by becoming comfortable. If you stand there listening with your arms closed or your hand on your hip it signals that you are not interested.
- Don’t interrupt! I put an exclamation after this one, because it is most important. Every time you interrupt the conversation, it tells the speaker that what you have to say is more important. So please, wait until the other person is finished speaking.
- Avoid distractions and disruptions. Play attention to the person speaking, rather than looking around the room or thinking about your next chore. If someone is sharing a heart-to-heart with you, then please turn off your phone or choose to ignore the caller.
- Ask good questions. This is signaling to the other person that you are listening and interested in what they have to say.
Everyone loves when people listen to them, it is human nature. When you teach yourself how to really listen, it will be a gift to others. They will turn to you when they are in need, or just need someone to talk to. You may be that one person, who helps someone out of a difficult situation or a depressed state of mind. Why? Just because you listened.
Being a great listener is probably one of the greatest gifts that you can give to others and it costs you nothing but time.
“Every relationship improves when we listen, especially our relationship with God”. Matthew Kelly, Resisting Happiness p. 104