The following piece is an excerpt from my book, “Word, From Your Mother,” a daily guidance journal written for my children, Liv and Pierce-Gabriel.
Do you have what it takes to be a good listener? It is one thing to hear what somebody is saying to you and another thing to listen genuinely. When you are listening to someone else’s story, do you interject? Is it possible to keep your mouth shut without inserting your preferences or opinions? Try this some time. It’s a challenging thing to do.
On top of that restraint of reply, observe how you feel when you’re practicing this. I find it a bit easier to listen now because I know how much my ego wants to put its two cents into every conversation. Sometimes, it’s because I want to be heard and recognized. At other times, I want to feel accepted or validated or wish to defend an opinion or argue. These are all the wants and desires of the ego.
In some way, one is looking for attention to feel better or justified. Make listening to others without interjecting a daily practice when you can. It’s challenging to listen to co-workers in the workplace, especially if you’re on a committee or team. These groups lend themselves to providing one’s input or opinion; however, be the conscious listener for more extended periods. Observe yourself. Observe the other players. It’s fascinating to watch “the show.”
Here’s a more complicated element to add to this practice: don’t judge anyone as you listen. Oh, this is tough! In other words, don’t say things in your head such as, “oh, that one is seeking attention, or that one is a brown noser.” Nope! Keep your mouth shut and turn off the cartoon cloud above your head, screaming to add input silently. The next step is to look at each player as a family member or good friend. Maybe even as their childlike self. Send them a blessing. Silently, thank them for their contribution. Observe that we are all one. We are all trying to attain the same thing. And that is to be accepted and loved.