I think the final piece of the puzzle for me was volunteering at a soup kitchen and really interacting with the guests – listening to their stories, concerns, jokes. It’s given me a broader perspective. I think I’m a much better listener now and more aware of making space for others in a conversation. When I find myself dominating the conversation, I’m able to recognise it and step back.
Kaivalya has written 7 entries about this goal
I’ve learned the most amazing things about people since I started this ‘listening project.’ In particular, hobbies and interests I never imagined some of my friends had! Fun!
I’ve continued to work on this goal, embracing opportunities to go out to lunch with friends, chat with friends and family on the phone, go for long walks and chat, etc.
I can’t say that I’m absolutely always a good listener, but I do feel that I’ve become much more aware of listening, asking questions and really trying to understand other perspectives.
The other day, I noticed as I was listening to a friend, I was starting to compose a thought in my head to respond. I suddenly thought: ‘Stop! Stop and listen to what she’s saying…’
Instead of responding with my own thought, I responded with a question, clarifying something she had said. She nodded and started speaking more enthusiastically
This is one of the rewards of truly listening – connecting with another human being, giving someone else space to speak their truth. Respect.
I had a great conversation with my mom the other day. I’m ashamed to admit this, but sometimes when she phones and I’m in the middle of something, I’ll just keep doing it.
So I was in the middle of making the bed and decided to just stop, lay down and talk to her. She was talking about arthritis in her feet. It suddenly occurred to me that I have no idea what it’s like to have arthritis, so I asked her: “What does it feel like to have arthritis in your feet?”
We chatted about that for awhile and it was really interesting! So I asked her about her hearing aid, which we’ve never talked about. I asked her what the world sounded like through a hearing aid and if she found it helpful, etc.
She told me about a golf tournament and not being a golf person, I found I couldn’t relate, so I asked how the golf tournament worked, how teams were chosen, etc. As she described the tournament, I kept asking questions, to make sure I understood. I noted the tournament date, so I could ask her about it next time we spoke.
We were having so much fun talking, that we just talked and talked. I found the conversation genuinely interesting. When we finally said goodbye, I felt a deep connection with my mom. I felt energised by our conversation.
I think I’ve stumbled onto something important – any topic can be made interesting if you’re really tuned in to the other person’s perspective. Arthritis isn’t interesting, but it was really interesting to hear what it feels like because I could put myself into her shoes. Hearing aids are actually fascinating – I had no idea that they are programmed by computer!
Good conversation isn’t just about asking questions, it’s about asking the right sort of questions and showing genuine interest. Writing this down, it sounds so simple and common sense, but these skills are sometimes difficult to put into action.
I went to lunch with a co-worker today. I’ve made many friends at this contract I’m on – it’s been nice that way. During the lunch, I set an intention to ask questions and really listen. We had a fascinating conversation.
I’ve really been trying to do this. One thing I find I do a lot is think about other things when someone is talking to me, or focus on what I will say next. I’m instead trying to focus on each word, maintaining eye contact and really trying to understand what the person is saying to me. There’s no magic in any of this – just being fully present. Of course, the easiest things are always the hardest…
I’ve been thinking a lot about this goal since I first posted it. I can be a quiet, shy person in groups, but one-on-one, I’m a talker. I always make a genuine effort to listen too, but sometimes I’m so intent on what I think I need to say that I’ll verbally bulldoze through a conversation. Rather than say my piece, I would rather be known as a person who asks interesting questions.
Kaivalya has gotten 20 cheers on this goal.
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