Life's Seasons Speaks

Listen to This!

January 26, 2022 with Jenny & Tina Episode 38
Life's Seasons Speaks
Listen to This!
Show Notes Transcript

Listen to This!

Are you a good listener?   Are you really?  How do you know?
 
Today we are going to look at what it really means to be a good listener and how to put it to the test.   We will discuss what listening is and what it isn't as far as responses, reactions, statements, and intentions.
We might even hear about a situation where Tina was NOT a good listener!

From last week's show on talking, to today's episode on listening, we set the stage for next Wednesday's release on connection.  Don't miss any of them! 

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Welcome back, and thanks for joining again.  Last week we talked about talking.  And how important it is to do it!  If you didn’t get a chance to hear that one yet, take a listen… which brings us to today’s topic of Listening. 

Sounds pretty logical to me.  Talk about talking last week and listen in today about listening. 

What about that old question – “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  I know this is a philosophical question to evoke thoughts on observation and perception.  But let’s look at it purely based on the question of noise and sound. 

Does somebody not need to hear a noise for it to actually be qualified as a sound? If you're not there to hear it, can it be classed as a sound? I don't know - something to ponder.  

But let's say it does matter.  Then it's the sound that needs to be heard to be anything.  And to do that we'd have to be listening.  

Listening then is really important. 

Intention is a vital part of that though. 

We tend to communicate so that we can TELL people things.  

Listening is altogether different and needs to be very intentional. Without the plan to get our plan agreed to. 

Listening is not thinking of what we are going to say next.  It's not even giving them a turn to speak. That’s not the point of listening, even if during their turn, they tell you something you already know and agree with. 

It’s a great feeling to have a conversation about what you already know and what you both agree on, but you're not any smarter after it’s done.  Your life hasn't been enriched at all. You've not been challenged to open to the possibility of a new perspective. 

If someone is trying to express the truth of a situation, as clearly as possible, that's a beautiful thing. 

The goal is not to look for where you agree.  It’s not even searching for where you might disagree, or to decide if you are compatible in your thoughts and feelings within the situation. It's to listen and hear the truth of a situation, as clearly as possible. 

You will learn something. You will find out something you didn't know.  You may even be challenged by this, but this is not the same as conflict.  This is a celebration that you are really listening. 

Because, you can only see, hear, taste, touch, smell, and experience a situation personally. That's your truth of the situation. 

Someone else’s experience is going to be personal just to them.  So, as they explain the truth of it as clearly as possible, and you learn something new, that is you, listening. 

Such an exchange of truth enriches both your lives to life itself as an experience. 

It's psychologically healthy. This is the actual basis of psychotherapy. You go to see a therapist because you want to better your experience of life somehow. And you go and you say “hey things are not as great as I'd like them to be. It's affecting me”. 

This is you engaging in therapy. You're saying something is not good and you want it to be better and that you’re willing to talk about it truthfully. 

That's how a therapeutic relationship starts. 

Now, what if you say, “but I don't have a therapist”?  

Well, do you have a real relationship with someone”? Because if you do, that's therapeutic. 

If it doesn't feel beneficial when you communicate then that may not be a really healthy relationship. 

When you communicate with someone, you need to try to express yourself truthfully. But that's only part of it.  The other part, the listening part, is so vitally important as well. 

And remember, we said listening WITHOUT the goal of the other person knowing you are right and agreeing with you. 

The only thought you have as you enter the conversation is that you are on their side and that you also want things to be better for them. 

Now there are no distractions for executing your plan. Because your plan is to focus on what they are expressing. 

And when you speak, it's in reaction to their experience of their situation as they expressed it. This is what I think or feel as a result or reaction to what you just said. 

This is not where we make a proposition of what we think is right or wrong or even the best solution. Just our thoughts and feelings based on what we've just heard expressed to us. 

This is an exchange of the experience, of the things being said and listened to. 

As we look at it in these details with this explanation can you say that you really listen when someone speaks to you? 

Do you have someone in your life who really listens to you when you speak? 

As a good listener we go into a conversation with a goal of ending it in a better place than where we started. 

And if you're thinking now “but what if I'm not going into a conversation with a problem? What if there is nothing to make better?  I’m just talking” 

Well, you'll still come out better if you were really listening. Because you'll have learned something. Something you couldn't have known quietly through your own experience.  You'll have learned something they experienced and then taught you about life, through their truthful expression of their experience. 

Walking away from a conversation with more knowledge, a wider perspective, and a broader understanding of the world and people's experiences within it, is you walking away better than when you started the conversation. 

And remember the other person gets to receive the same from you. 

They also get the beautiful honor of being heard. 

Do you want to know if you're a good listener?  Are you up for the challenge of being put to the test? 

Here's a strategy sometimes used in conflict resolution, to help with communication: 

The next time you find yourself in the middle of an argument with your partner or a friend, stop and implement this rule… 

Everyone is allowed to defend themselves but only after they have re-stated the feelings and thoughts of the previous speaker - accurately. 

And you will know it is accurate when they agree with your re-statement. 

This makes you have to listen and listen well. It also helps the previous speaker really hear what they just said. And you know what else can happen? Sometimes you end up helping the other person express themselves better than they were able to do. What a beautiful way to start building a bridge during a disagreement. 

It also means that before defending, correcting, disagreeing, or anything else, you need to really understand the other person’s frame of reference and experience as they experienced it. 

And maybe you’re like me… Maybe you can be quite quick with a response where you are defending your point of view and just arguing that you are correct.  And perhaps it takes a little bit longer to really process someone else’s point of view and just respond from that. 

That’s ok.  But it is something to be aware of and something to take responsibility for.  You may need to slow down the conversation and make room for pauses and thoughts and considerations.  You may need to ask more questions to make sure you fully understand. 

You may need to incorporate response phrases like, “please give me a minute to think that through” or even “please leave that with me because what you said is important and I really want to process it”. 

There was an event that I had to attend a few years ago.  My husband couldn’t accompany me.  I knew that ahead of time.  So, I had mentioned to my son, Shale, several times that I would like him to go with me. 

It wasn’t an event where I had to be accompanied by someone, but I’ve got to tell you, I am the most awkward person in any situation where I don’t have a job. 

If I am going somewhere and I know my job is to set up the room with tables and chairs, or get the food out and ready, or serve the coffee, or even speak – I’m ok.  I have a job and I know what to do. 

But if I am to attend as a guest that is free to mingle and visit at my leisure, I am so uncomfortable and I will, for sure, be very awkward. 

This was not an event where I would have a job.  And my husband couldn’t come to be a security blanket of buffering… so I had told my son I would want him there. 

But on the day of the event, just a couple of hours before, a car pulled into our driveway and my son walked out the door yelling “love you” and proceeded to meet up with his buddy at the car. 

Well, I was mad, and panicked, and shocked.  I had been quite clear, hadn’t I?  That I would need him to attend this event with me. 

I never listened to his responses that were anything but yes because I didn’t want to hear that.  And now as he stood at the door of his buddy’s car, and I stood at the back door of the house, I reminded him of our date. 

“Shale, I told you I wanted you to go with me tonight.  You know this makes me so uncomfortable and anxious and I don’t want to show up without anyone with me.  I told you I needed you to go with me”. 

And standing between the car and the door, with one foot already in and one hand on the top of the door frame, he calmly replied saying, “mom I love you, but I am not going with you.  I’ve tried to tell you this.  It is not my job to comfort you, protect you, or make sure you feel ok in this situation.  I’m not going with you”. 

And then he got in the car, and they drove away. 

And driving away was the best thing he could do at that moment.  Because I was ready.  I had a reply ready to go and it did not first include listening or re-stating what I just heard him say. 

It was only intent on defending my side and making him agree with me and my plan. 

But he had driven away.  I was left with what he had just said.  I was left to play it repeatedly.  Playing it over and over because I was upset about it, but what ended up happening was me processing what I just heard. 

After time to process, I realized that he didn’t leave me with an uncomfortable situation to deal with.  He left me with an epiphany.  A few of them. 

Does anyone else have kids who are smarter than they are? 

It’s both humbling and cause for so much pride. 

Epiphany number 1.  He was right.  It was not his job to take care of me and that is the exact place I was putting him in by asking him to go with me.  That was the ultimate reason why I asked him to join me.  Not even to be a part of the event, but to take care of my feelings while we were there.  And no, that is not his job. 

Epiphany number 2.  I hadn’t listened to anything he had said since the first time I brought up the suggested plan to him, right up until he drove away because he had been saying things I didn’t want to hear. 

And epiphany number 3.  If I had been aware that I do better with time to process, especially when emotions are involved, I could have realized long before… he never did say that he would attend. 

But I hadn’t been listening for his truth.   

If I had been, I would have learned something. I would have found out something that I didn't know.  I would have even been challenged by what I learned, but that wouldn’t have been conflict.  That would have been a celebration that I had really listened. 

When he explained his truth of the situation, and he did so very clearly and calmly and respectfully, AND I had time to process it… he had never said he would go with me. 

But that was all I had been interested in hearing.  I didn’t listen for anything else.  I was only interested in executing my plan and getting him to agree to it. 

When he spoke his truth, very clearly, and then left it with me to process... it enriched my life.  And taught me a lot about a lot.   

About me, about him, and about listening. 

And this brings me to the last thing I’m just going to mention today about listening… 

When done well, with the intention of ending the conversation in a better place for both of you than when you started it, it builds connection. 

And connection is so important for relationships, healing, succeeding, growing, and living a life you feel good about. 

Connection is key to so many aspects of health for our lives. 

And I want that for you.  I want all the good for all your lives. 

Take care until we meet back here again. 

Goodbye for now, and we’ll speak again soon.