Monday, June 10, 2013

365 Inspirations—161: Listening

“A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.”—Rachel Naomi Remen

I'm a storyteller by nature. All my family members love to tell stories. When we all get together, there's not a whole lot of listening going on.

So it's no surprise that listening is not my best trait, but I will say that it is one I'm developing and it's been so rewarding to be acquiring this important skill that so few of us have.

It's the end of quarter at school and so much is going on. There really isn't much time to do anything, let alone listen.

But in spite of the end of quarter frenzy that is happening right now at school, I found myself listening a lot today.

Today, while meeting the students individually to talk over their final tests and get them registered for their classes this summer, I found myself doing more listening than speaking.

One quiet Vietnamese woman, who hadn't spoken much all quarter, suddenly found the opportunity to open up to me in our meeting today. She was my last appointment for the afternoon and it was 6:00pm. I was sure I'd be out of there in 10 minutes and was daydreaming of getting something to eat before my next long two hours of class.

But something happened.

While registering this student, I felt she had something she really wanted to say. I felt that she may not have anyone to share her thoughts with—that her life consisted of working long hours and taking care of her family.

In those extra 30 minutes that I sat across from this woman listening, I felt her heaviness and her pain. I heard about her struggles of escaping her country and the loss of people she loved. I felt her sadness, but I also felt her relief of finally being able to let this heaviness out.

I was listening.

I was giving this woman a chance to speak.

I provided her a comfortable space to open up.

I realized that so many of us are often so busy with our own agendas that we barely have time to really listen to others. What I realized today is that if you let a little space surround your life and the people in your life, if you really choose to listen, then you can learn so much.

I felt a deep gratitude that this woman took me away from my "list" and gave me the opportunity to tune in and hear what she had to say.

I realize that we are all connected and what affects one person, place or thing, affects everything else. Sometimes our busyness to move on to the next thing or the next story or even the next word causes us to miss everything that is right here in front of us, if we'd only listen.

Are you a good listener?

1 comment:

  1. I think I have become a much better listener of the years - we become more attentive listeners and more "selfless" in conversation. BTW I didn't realize we both worked in a college setting!? I work as a counselor and I was registering students all day yesterday. What a coinkidink :)