I want to wrap up the theme of sound with a small tribute to my mom. She died a few years ago in August from ovarian cancer and I miss her more now than ever. One of her greatest legacies to me and others was her ability to listen.
My mom was a great listener. Even as a kid I can remember various people stopping by or calling my mom to talk. Sometimes around the kitchen table with cups of hot tea and tissues. Sometimes on the phone while she was trying to make dinner. All ages, shapes and sizes of people came to my mom. She did have some good insight and occasional advice but she was best at just listening and, in honor of her, I want to encourage us to become better listeners.
It is a profound gift to be heard– to be listened to.
In America, especially, we spend thousands of dollars a year on therapists and counselors in order to have someone to listen to us.
Listening is a powerful tool in crafting hope. Listening to our hearts and the sounds around us, then learning to filter the negative is a skill to be honed as we journey towards a more HOPE-full life. In our journey we have the joy and opportunity to give hope away to others by choosing to listen–not judge, advise or critique.
It can be hard to be still and just listen to someone else’s issues.
I like to problem-solve but that’s not usually what is needed. I have to remind myself of that when it comes to my family. My kids and husband have heard plenty of my ‘wisdom’ over the years. As my kids head into adulthood, I want to help them make wise decisions and to guide them but I am re-thinking the amount of wisdom that is actually needed and maybe I will opt for more listening instead.
Change the world by listening?
We are told that in order to change the world we have to go and do but I have to wonder what if we decided to change the world by offering our ears. I have had the opportunity to be on both ends of the listening and I have experienced its power first hand. It worked for Horton in Dr. Suess’ Horton Hears a Who which is a great story for inspiration on the power of listening.
It takes practice to be a better listener. Here are a few tips:
1. Be committed.
Don’t walk away before there’s a natural conclusion to the conversation.
2. Don’t be a problem solver.
Even if you have the perfect solution that can end the conversation quickly, wait. And then some more.
3. Pay attention to your non-verbal language.
How are you standing/sitting? Do you have a glazed look on your face?
4. Keep listening!
Avoid the temptation to daydream or to prepare a mental “To Do” list while listening.
5. Listen with love. Have a positive attitude during the conversation. This is not an interruption in your day but an opportunity to reflect God’s love during His day.
6. Clarify what is being said.
Don’t pretend to know what the speaker is talking about if you don’t. Don’t be afraid to ask speaker to repeat something that you didn’t hear or to clarify when needed.
7. Repeat what was said.
Show you’re listening by reiterating what you heard the person say and how she feels
8. Prove you’re listening.
When appropriate, nod, smile, congratulate, comment, etc.
9. Wait your turn.
Don’t compose what you’re going to say while someone else is speaking. Stay focused on what is being said – you’ll have time to get your thoughts together.
10. Look at the person!
Nothing is as insulting as having a conversation with someone who looks everywhere and at everyone but at you.
We can share hope and make a difference to someone by just being there. I know my mom did for me and numerous others. Her legacy is meant to be shared so I share it with you in hope that you will pass on the gift of listening to others and change the world…one ear at a time.
And thanks, Mom.
Heidi Mull, drinking a cup of tea, missing my mom, and learning the legacy of listening.