to Listen –
I have a friend who had a tough conversation earlier this week with one of the leaders at her work. It was a conversation long overdue but oftentimes these are easier to avoid than begin. Part of the challenge is the fact that once a grievance is aired, it can’t be taken back. If the person is caught unawares the conversation can get uncomfortable, quick! Another risk is the recipient might also see this time as an opportunity to unload something they’ve been holding back.
However, this wasn’t my friend’s experience. Her perception of the conversation was that the other wasn’t listening. There wasn’t much feedback or input from the other party. They sat there, injected a few words, and then moved on to another topic before ending the conversation. My friend was frustrated because nothing was solved and the subject will have to be addressed again.
Wisdom teaches us that; “Listening is not agreeing.” Too often, when someone confronts us, challenges our way of thinking, we become aggressive and want to prove to them and our ourselves we are right in our thinking. So, instead of listening while they are talking, understanding and evaluating what they have to say, we are too busy planning what we are going to say next in our minds. We don’t listen and aren’t open to something that might be said which we need to hear. Even if, as we carefully and contemplatively listen, don’t find something we can at least show the other person what they say matters.
Listening is not agreeing but it is allowing the other person to be and have a worldview which might not be ours but is respected because we honor them.
Handle with Care –
Today the Mrs. and I decided to reorganize the kitchen. We wanted to rid ourselves of extra cups, plates, tea brewers, cake molds and more. As a man who is married to a wonderful cook, I knew when we started I was on her turf. As I moved anything breakable a gorgeous pair of blues eyes watched me. There were times when I would bump coffee mugs, Lenox ware, and other fragile items and though I didn’t break them I could feel her cringe every time. We finally finished with what we could do together and she told me she would take care of the few remaining items. I am positive it was her not so subtle way of saying; “You’ve been in my space long enough!” I didn’t argue and told her if she needed me to say something. Not a word was uttered.
Honoring each other’s space is wise. Different people have different spaces but each should be entered and exited with care. I knew a minister who used to have a large personal space. When you’d go to shake his hand he would lock his arm and elbow and not let you get any closer to him. Recognizing that places and spaces are valuable to people allows you to add a layer of respect and makes a way for deeper, more intimate conversation and strong relationships.