roughly two months ago, i confessed to a group of colleagues that i used to think i was a good listener until i realized that i just didn’t talk.
my confession elicited major laughter. it surprised me. i wasn’t trying to be funny and then i experienced the joy of being naturally funny. i tried not to pride myself in the moment but simply move on. as you can tell, i still pride myself in the moment.
anyway, yes, not talking is not the same as listening well. listening well is something i’ve experienced improvement in since january. honestly. it’s this interesting thing where you actually pay attention not just to what someone’s saying but to what they’re not saying and how they’re saying what they’re not saying. and it’s really not that complex when it transpires. one of the trickiest parts is not saying anything in response. i know right? *mind blown* how in the world do you not respond? that’s like not participating in the conversation. well, you see, it’s not really a conversation that we’re used to. it’s not the sort where i hear what you’re saying long enough to figure out what i’m going to say and how to slip it in nicely so that it seems as if i truly care to make that transition to my own point.
this listening is new and selfless…that’s why it’s so new. in order to do it well, i have to remove my “fix it” hat, the one not only known by men, btw. i take that off because if i don’t, i get frustrated which hinders listening all the more. you see, a great percentage of these true listening conversations involve issues that i can’t fix, stuff i have zero answers for. my childhood world of B&W is no longer helpful because the answers enclosed in that packet don’t always get at the core.
the answer is not, “do this, ” but “unpack this” and unpacking during one’s adult years is multilayered. some of what you unpack must inevitably be laundered and that’s a process all its own. perhaps some are dry clean only. other pieces may need to be thrown away–they’ve seen better days. still other items need to be returned to their rightful owner, emptied of tissue, refilled, wrapped up…unpacking is a necessary chore.
one should really unpack before heading out on another trip.
i’ve been asked not to save you but to help you unpack. oy.