Have you ever spent time gazing deeply into someone’s eyes while they were talking with you? Really paying attention to every word, doing your best to understand?
Rather than interrupt with question or let your mind wander off into its stories (the way minds do), you truly tried to feel the emotion behind their words?
If you have, then you might know what I mean about the power of deep listening to heal many ills of the world. As humans, we deeply yearn to be seen and understood by other sentient beings. It is deeply wired into our survival DNA as a species.
When we feel seen and deeply appreciated by another human being, we start to mirror back that feeling toward the world. We connect more deeply with others around us, and we start to heal the wounds we all carry, personally and collectively.
I have to admit that listening deeply is something I have not practiced as consistently as I would like with loved ones. Listening without judgment and with true curiosity is an art and a practice. It requires awareness of your own mind, and the ability to stay present and return even when you feel distracted.
All I know is that when I listen deeply to people, whether my family or my coworkers or colleagues, I am transformed as well. When I have made that connection with intention to deeply understand not just the words but the emotion behind them, all of my relationships improve.
In an era where it is too easy to be distracted, try deeply listening to someone today. Ignore the pings and dings from your phone. Set aside the opinions and judgments. Just watch how this practice brings greater joy and ease to your life and your work.
Speech is silver; silence is golden, goes the saying. Though the second half is the more remembered according to the Literary Devices site.
Tonight my husband was thirsting for some silence, and I was sitting in the dining room on my laptop, oblivious to this fact. He had his phone in hand, and was sort of half-listening to me (or at least that was what I perceived).
When he does this while I am trying to actually connect with him, it drives me crazy. But because I was kind of wound up from a busy day, and thoughts of needing to “fit everything in” before I return to a full time work schedule, I was multi-tasking. I was talking off and on, not very aware of how much I was blathering on, while trying to get 3 other things done on my computer.
Even for those of us with variable attention, who juggle many tasks fairly well (more than the average person), there is a limit. Going beyond the limit does not typically end well.
In our case, it touched off a sensitive subject for me. He pointed out that I was talking a lot (it had been a hard day for him) and it was too much for him. I didn’t respond well at first. It triggered a “shame storm” of my own memories of being silenced in other settings: in my family, in various workplaces and at other times.
So I did my best to respond mindfully and I asked him to tell me more. I had gotten a little teary and “raw” at the story that I was making up: that he doesn’t care what I have to say. In reality, he only wanted what I’ve been giving myself every morning: quiet time upon arriving home, to wind down and transition into the evening. (In my case, it is quiet time in the morning to transition to into my activities).
I realized I had been glued to my computer for the afternoon, in full-on “work mode” even after he arrived home. I had not done my usual “shut down ritual” for the day, creating space between work brain and home brain, and taking my work stuff out of the dining room (adjacent to the living room).
His request was reasonable. I asked him: “when I do talk mindlessly or forget that you need some quiet wind-down time, what are ways you can remind me of this in a non-shaming way?”
We decided on something humorous. A former co-worker of mine used to stand at my cube on Friday afternoons and chat with me while I was trying to wrap up the week and leave. This used to drive me crazy, because I did not know how to politely ask her to leave me alone so I could finish and go home.
Hubby is going to call me by that name when I’m not sensing that he needs quiet. I shall refrain from naming the person. I am pretty sure they did not do this on purpose, and may just have been lonely.
The irony of all of this is that one of the values my coach, Elizabeth Dickinson, had helped me uncover was that of “personal space.” What that means to me: plenty of time for solitude, quiet and “deep work” time, along with time and space to listen to my podcasts and shift my energy as necessary to a just right stimulus. It is harder to achieve that in cubicle-land when we do not have an office with a door.
Soon I will return to a setting where I will have a cube again, and have been trying to consider how to access personal space. I am hoping that in an academic environment at a University, some closed-door time and deep work will be honored, even for staff who are not professors. Maybe in a conference room? But I am not sure. If any of my readers have advice and/or thoughts on this topic, I welcome your feedback. Clearly there will be a part 2 to this reflection, as I have just scratched the surface on this topic.
Is silence or solitude golden to you? How do you carve out those spaces in your workplace if you do not have an office?
I kept my word and took a couple days off writing recently. Well, I managed Saturday and Monday. Apparently I cannot resist writing *something* like a haiku on the weekends, even when I was determined to take a break. There really is something to a daily habit that is kind of irresistible.
Yesterday I shared a post from a favorite blogger, and I think I will do that a bit more during the holiday season. I am trying to get organized to keep that information and schedule it out in advance, which is fortunately easy to do on the “old” WordPress editor to which I managed to down-grade.
Lately I have been binge-listening to a podcast show that I really enjoy, called the Pivot Podcast by Jenny Blake. I actually discovered the book while I was in an AirBnB in October, and it felt like the perfect read for my business transition. When I realized Jenny had a podcast, I also checked it out. She introduced me to Penny Pierce, who wrote The Intuitive Way, which is also precious wisdom.
I have been musing on why I cannot get enough of Jenny. I realize it is partly her voice, and the sincerity and openness with which she approaches her craft. Most of her shows are interviews of authors, but a few are solo riffs. She is a public speaker and does keynote addresses, so obviously she has practiced. But I find it easier to connect with authors who are willing to risk the relatively more “vulnerable” practice of using their voices as well as their written words. Also, she is about a decade younger than me, and the wisdom beyond her years amazes me.
It makes me consider whether I want to experiment with such a medium someday, even though I know there’s a crowded media market. It is interesting how podcasts are democratizing a “radio” market, somewhat like blogs democratized the written media market.
I typically like to listen while I’m in my car running errands. I’m a fan public radio and I support my local station each month. But with the news the way it is, I stopped listening daily after Trump was elected. I just couldn’t absorb it all the time. I switched to podcasts so I could “curate” my listening experience a bit more. This post reminded me to update my Audiophiles page. If you are traveling for the holidays and looking for some audio companionship on your journey, check it out. Cheers!