"Instead of listening with one ear, as I sometimes do when faced with life's deadlines, with multitasking, I used both ears. Real listening is prayer." ~William Powers
During college I was a horrible listener. I was quick to interrupt people and tell them all about my political views and how they needed to change the world. But that started to change after I left the investment management industry. I went back to school and began volunteering at a local rape crisis center. I took a number of classes and became a victim advocate. It wasn't until I took these courses and started volunteering on the crisis line, that I learned about the art of listening.
Listening isn't a hard skill to master. But many of us don't do it very well. It's never too late to relearn this valuable skill! :)
When you're talking to a friend or family member, pay attention, don't interrupt, and remove all distractions (like your smart phone). By practicing active listening you can learn more about the world around you and better understand your friends and family members.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, I think we all need to remember the importance of listening to each other. During the hectic organizing of events, preparation of food, and coordination of gifts we forget that holidays are really about bringing people together.
Rather than getting stressed out about about cooking and family visits, the upcoming holiday is the perfect opportunity to practice the art of listening. Listening is a key component of nurturing strong relationships. And building long-lasting relationships is the foundation of happiness. If you don't listen to those in your life, relationships become weak and you'll become unhappy.
If you start getting stressed out this week, remember:
Listening is an act of love.
Listening is about being mindful.
Listening is an act of compassion.
Listening is an act of kindness.
Listening can make you happy.
Listening is an act of gratitude.
Listening is about paying attention. The authors of Buddha's Brain say, "Attention is like a spot light, and what it illuminates streams into your mind and shapes your brain. Consequently, developing greater control over your attention is perhaps the single most powerful way to reshape your brain and thus your mind. You can train and strengthen your attention just like any other mental ability."
Instead of heading to the mall on Black Friday, consider participating in the National Day of Listening. Ask your friends and family to share their favorite stories with you and really listen to what they have to say.
What is the National Day of Listening?
...The National Day of Listening is an effort to encourage Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs to interview a friend, loved one, or member of their community about their lives on the day after Thanksgiving.
Thousands of Americans have already taken part in the National Day of Listening, including families, educators, and local organizations, who have embraced the National Day of Listening as a way to incorporate StoryCorps’ interviewing techniques into their programs.
The National Day of Listening occurs every year on the day after Thanksgiving—offering a holiday alternative to Black Friday shopping sprees. If participants are unable to record an interview on the official National Day of Listening, StoryCorps encourages them to record Do-It-Yourself interviews throughout the holiday season.
For more information, visit: