I began reading a book recently that I did not totally agree with. I am a firm believer, however, in giving the smallest of things a chance in life. We are constantly learning, and I cherish that!
One of the suggestions in the book was to purposely get beyond seeing people at surface level. Observe and listen. Listen with interest.
Despite my own perception that I listen well, I decided to pay attention to how well I really do.
I listened to the Amish woman as she told me how she really should have been planting on such a nice day. Planting means she thought she should be standing on the plow behind the horses, in the field. She shared things with me that warmed my heart. I am glad that I really listened. I had purposely slowed my pace. Those few minutes revived what had been a slump in my day. Who knows, it may have done the same for her.
I listened to a local man as he told me that his clothes were in a box in the back of his truck. He said he was fighting with his wife about her son that was leaving prison. He got sent to jail as the son came home from prison. I did not judge. I listened. There is a lot of life to be learned by listening. I realized I was talking to a man who, despite all of his hardships, could still laugh and enjoy life. He needed someone to listen to him. I learned something from him.
I listened to the gas station attendant talk about his motorcycle expeditions, despite the fact that the feed store at the other end of town that I had to get to was going to close in 15 minutes. I found myself laughing out loud, shedding tears from the belly laughs. I no longer saw the guy with grease up to his elbows, one that always seemed engrossed in work, and work only. I heard a person that really wanted to experience more in life. I heard a person that could joke about his middle-age. I listened intently. Purposely. And I enjoyably learned a lot.
My lesson this week, that I plan to continue practicing, is to listen intently, with purpose. Forget the clock.
As a small business owner, I find myself engrossed in the calendar. I am notorious for watching the clock. Keeping a schedule is good. Being committed is necessary. But it isn’t good when we forget to slow down and listen to what is most important in life, people. Nothing is worth not doing that.
If you think you listen well, try listening harder. Give it a shot. Listen with purpose. Devote yourself. If you are already the best listener, you may not have needed to hear about my life lesson. And then, you just might find yourself as surprised as I was.