Purposefully listening

Carol is the youngest of the Vaughan-Bower daughters. There is far too much to say about Cah, but this one thing she tries to do has influenced me a lot.

She’s taught me about how mutually-beneficial listening with purpose can be. She does this (she’s human so she’s not perfect in every situation, I’m sure) and it serves her well. Let me break it down, in my own words.

It’s a 3-step process, from what I gather. I have to listen intently and with purpose. It means that I am listening to understand where the other person is truly sitting at this moment in time, in the past, and where he/she wants to go. Then, I am able to truly acknowledge what this person wants from me, from someone else, from a job, etc. Finally, this brings about something rather remarkable: mutual respect. From there? We can mediate/negotiate/agree to disagree/etc. What we can’t do is get to a point of mutual respect without the first two steps: purposeful listening and acknowledgment.

The first card I play has always been compassion. It’s why I could cry almost every moment of the day because I swear there is always horrible stuff happening. I’ve told many people that we took a family trip to NYC when I was little and I cried for 3 hours after seeing my first homeless person. I could cry now. Newsflash: that doesn’t help the homeless guy find food and a warm bed. That’s what I see at age 38. We are not moving him to a place of safety and security when I cry about it.

What Carol taught, and is still teaching, me is how much can be gained when I DON’T try to put myself in another person’s shoes. See, it’s not about me. THEY ARE HIS SHOES. So, I need to listen to whatever he needs to say, instead of making it about my compassion/disdain/judgment/reaction. That way, I’m listening with purpose and the purpose is to understand him, to acknowledge his situation/wants/needs. Then, we can strategize a way through it, if need be.  I’m not listening to “defend” myself or Obama or the United States. I’m talking, this needs to be done in everyday conversations, people.

Social media and emails and the lack of real communication make this process challenging. We have to remember, words on a page do not convey emotion well. Emoticons are the closest thing we have to understanding if “Go jump off a bridge” is 😉 or serious. But, they’re not real. You can’t “listen” to emails or blog posts or even newspaper articles. It’s tough in 2015.

But, you can do it face-to-face, Skype, phonecalls (sort of). It certainly needs to be done more at higher levels of “big ticket” talks.

Purposefully listening – what a concept.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.