Life According to Jayne
The phone rang. I barely said Hello when my excited friend started
telling me about his plans to take his wife to Hawaii. After doing
an internet search his best option for accommodations was with a vender he was familiar with. She had just built a brand new place
and is renting it for a fraction of the cost of her previous, established lodgings, and my friend wanted to get in on this great deal.
Him: “Do you know what the scariest things is”?
Me: “No, what”?! (I couldn’t imagine what he was talking about).
Him: “Because this place is new, there are no reviews”!!
In my experience, many people listen with the intent to reply, and few listen with the intent to understand. There is a big difference. When listening to reply, the underlying meaning from the speaker can be lost. Ego-based judgement gets in the way. Shallow responses are made, at best. Both speaker and receiver are left feeling unsatisfied by the conversation.
When listening is done with the intent to understand, so much more can be gleaned from the same conversation. The person speaking feels truly heard and person receiving has a richer experience from the conversation. Here’s my examples:
If I had listened to reply:
W-H-A-T-T-T?? This is a scary thing??!!
You’ve got to be kidding me??
Scary! What’s so scary about that?
You should feel lucky that you even get to go to Hawaii
What’s wrong with you? This is so trivial!
What are you telling me this for?
I don’t get to go to Hawaii. Why would I care about your accommodations?
Instead I chose to listen to understand:
Even though you’re getting a good deal, you’re still paying lots of money and want it to be great
You are treating your wife and you want her to think highly of you
You need to get away to relax in a nice place, not a dive
I may not get to go to Hawaii but this conversation is not about me – (ego step aside)
I’m enjoying your excitement while you give me the details of your trip – that’s why I like you so much
You need to de-stress on your vacation
I can get caught up in your enthusiasm, right along with you
How honouring, that you chose to share your excitement with me
The fact is that my friend works at a very high performance, highly stressful job. He’s bright enough to be part of the Mensa Club. His brain never rests. He works either 8 or 12 hour shifts and is always on call. His own family is grown so he picks up extra shifts so that his younger co-workers can be with their family on special occasions. In his spare time, he works on other people’s computers, especially his late father-in-law’s older friends so they don’t have to worry when they download something that makes their computers crash. The only time that he can completely let go, relax and get off the grid, is if he’s miles away from work and friends. His vacation time is extremely important for his mental and physical well-being.
Note to self: I’m the one that misses out when I don’t listen to understand.
Obviously there are far more scary things out there (like serious health issues and bomb threats), and each one of us has a different interpretation. However, in every circumstance, it’s unrealistic to expect expansion in myself, if I don’t push my own personal ego and judgement aside to really listen to others.
What’s your Scariest Thing? I’ll do my best to listen to understand.
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