old black and white photo of a man and a kid

Why Bother Leaning In?

While raising our three sons, the nightly routine of tucking them into bed at night turned me into a good listener.

After the busyness of an ordinary day and before falling asleep at night, they needed my undivided attention. It only took a few minutes for them to share what was on their heart, ask a question or be assured I’d be there in the morning to fix their breakfast.  Even though I am no longer my sons’ confidant, the lesson they taught me about leaning in to listen to their hearts still lingers. 

Patient in Listening

There is a Native American proverb that states, “Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf.” We all like to get our point across, share an opinion, or make sure our voice is heard while discussing important matters. And there is a time for all of us to speak, but there is also a time for all of us to hearken. 

Tuning in to what someone else is saying alters both the listener and the speaker. I know from personal experience that pausing long enough to give my full attention to someone can make me feel restless, especially with those who speak softly or slowly. But when I consider the important value of building relationships, then taking the time to listen becomes a priority.

Learning to listen and to listen attentively takes practice and patience. Sometimes, I don’t always sense the commonality between someone’s story and mine, but, when I ruminate on their words I can relate to what the other person is saying. Even though I may have not experienced the same situation, circumstance, problem or emotion as they have, our humanity and universal feelings connect us. Everyone knows what it feels like to experience frustrations, hardships, misunderstandings, sorrow, anger, defeat and anguish. 

Listening carries with it a responsibility to care. If we care enough about someone, then we will also see the value of giving them the time they need to say what they need to say. Tuning into their words will no longer be a task, it will be a privilege.

Why bother leaning in? If you really want to know someone, and understand them, if you want a heart to heart connection, then begin by listening. That they’ve chosen you to share themselves with may be an indicator that they already think that you are a good listener.

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