26 Jan 2009

The joy of being listened to

Posted by paulandrew

sm-walking-together-sxchu-398250_1554-c-carl-dwyer1I sat down for dinner with “A” last night when she announced “I’m always the one talking — now I’m going to listen for you.  What’s on your mind?” Now I’m certainly not one to turn down an offer for listening, and so I took a deep breath and started to talk.

At first I was a little tentative because I thought that she’d jump in, as has happened in the past.  But after I put a couple of big ideas out there, I saw that she was just hanging back, and at most doing a WIG. So I relaxed a little more, took another breath, and continued talking.

We got into a rhythm where I put a few ideas out there, and she’d do a really simple WIG. It was a really nice feeling to simply be accompanied as I walked through my concerns.  Because she didn’t interrupt, because she let me be quiet sometimes, and because when she did talk she just touched base with what I’d said, I felt supported and accepted.

Then a curious thing happened.  In the space of being listened to so nicely, I started to develop a certain curiosity about what I was saying.  It’s as if I was freed up to view my concerns in a new way. And so I started to explore these challenges, and find new perspectives.

While I can’t say that I had any huge breakthroughs, my perspective shifted a little. I think that that’s the start of a meaningful change. And I can definitely say that I felt much better, about the situation and about myself, after the conversation.

Here’s to the gift of great listening.

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