In this jacked-up, gotta-go world of ours, we periodically need to be reminded about the preternatural importance of being a good listener.
This week’s dose of sound wisdom is administered by three grandmothers who lend a listening ear in their volunteer work with hospice patients nearing the end of their lives.
Being a good listener means shelving your own internal chatter to focus your attention on someone else.
This is not always easy, with so many things screaming for our undivided concentration.
We demand such focus from our spouses, children, friends and co-workers. And politicians? Don’t get us started…
Yet, how often do we find ourselves lamenting, “If only I listened?” How often is it we who are not paying attention?
It no doubt drives everyone nuts just knowing, when you’re saying something, that the person who should be listening to you is instead so wrapped up in what they’re going to say next, that all they’re hearing is “mwa mwa mwa,” like that teacher’s voice in Charlie Brown cartoons. But how often are we guilty of this?
We grow perturbed when people’s eyes glaze over – you know their thoughts are worlds away from what you’re trying to express.
But how often is it our minds that wander, at the expense of others?
When you listen, you learn. Learn the importance of sharing time, energy, and showing others that you give a whit. And lots of other important stuff, too.
The flip side of the coin, of course, is this: If you have nothing to say, don’t babble.
The practise of good listening, as rare as it is today, is something that should never be squandered on banal chatter.
If you cherish good listening, be a good listener. It’s a two-way street.