I love to talk. I have always been a big talker. Ask my husband and kids. I love to give people my answers. I love to dive into deep conversations and learn new things. And I love to see others grow and change as well. However, I am learning that my “talking” has very little listening in it. My heart is still there to see others grow and change, but…there is a reason God gave me two ears and only one mouth.
Talking at someone does not always produce change. EVEN WHEN YOU HAVE THE RIGHT ANSWER. In fact, research reveals that talking to or giving feedback can actually hurt performance of the person you are talking to. Parents of teenagers – We work a lot with teens and parents and so often I see parents giving the best wisdom to their teens deaf ears. They do not hear it. Which means this is wasted energy on the parents part. The relationship needs to be there first. They need to trust the parent and trust that they truly love them. Married couples – This is a big one. Because we “see” our spouse’s mistakes, we think we know how to fix them and we have the answers. Ahem… guilty. Us giving them the answers we believe are right causes them to feel less okay, less loved, and less connected to you. Thus, driving you further apart. Other relationships – Really look and see the patterns in your relationships. Is there continuous talking on both part and no listening or change? I know at times I think I had a great conversation with a friend but it was just me talking out loud and enjoying what I said, not enjoying and understanding what I heard.
Some people are naturally good at listening. I am not necessarily writing to those people. However, they could learn from how people like me think. Our hearts are in a good place, we just don’t always connect our ears and mouth the way they are meant to be used.
Here are 4 ways to make a bigger impact with other people:
Get real with yourself. . “If you can’t ask for help without self-judgment, you cannot offer help without judging others.” – Brené Brown. Honestly, are you really listening? If, when you read this you quickly say “yes” and move onto the next sentence, then you ARE NOT. People who truly listen can be still long enough to look at themselves and be aware of their own struggles. There is NO SHAME in this! We live in a society where people feel like they need to be right most of the time. This is not a good place to come from, it only hurts you and others. Telling people you’re right does not create love, connection, lasting relationships and change
Try a short period of time where you are STILL and don’t give solutions or talk. Pick 1 month. Or 6. I picked a year. It was really hard for me. I mean REALLY hard. I thought I could try it for a couple months but I quickly learned I still thought I was right and had so much to say. This amount of time allows the change to truly be transformative for you. Quick fixes never work.
Be present. Give your head some peace. Quit thinking about what you are doing next. Quit judging, analyzing, trying to fix it in your head. My brain seems like it never stops. This isn’t effective in loving others and others loving me. Be in the moment. See the time as a clock with no arms!
Love people through their failure. Don’t try to fix them, even when you have the right answer. Just love them. Tell them you see them. Listen. Validate what they are going through. Have compassion for their struggles and trust that they have the wisdom to figure it out. If they have a question for you and want your feedback, they will ask for it. Brené Brown says “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”
What if my teen is doing something really destructive and they won’t listen?! What if my spouse is hurting our family?! If there is abuse or clear destruction, do not ignore it. That needs to be attended to. I am talking about 95% of the daily issues we deal with. People just need to be loved.
This was a very humbling experience for me. And it hasn’t stopped. I am still on this “listening and loving” journey. One of the things I noticed was that there were times that I would be quiet, even when I know I had the answer or could help a situation. I still was quiet. Talking, solving problems, putting my 2 cents in isn’t always the answer. People just need others to just accept them where they are at, love them, be with them, SEE them. They are loved, valued, important. YOU are loved, valued, important. After making this change, after working hard to be still, I think sometimes I have actually become the person that some don’t see. I now know what it feels like to feel unseen, not valued, not heard. It hurts. It’s painful. However – it’s a lie. I am worthy, I am valuable. These other people who are not hearing me also have big hearts and aren’t using it in the way it was meant to, just like I wasn’t. So I remember that. And I love them. I see them. Just like I needed to be loved myself.
Sometimes we need to be quiet and let people figure things out on their own and love and support them through their journey. This will give them confidence to be who they are, in the mess and everything. The imperfect places where we are discovering stuff in life is truly where we need to be seen. We need to just be okay where we are at. So I am not speaking anything new, I’m speaking a lot of what other people speak. But the difference is that this is personal for me and I want to share this authentic discovery with you. I’m getting better at getting out of the way, listening to others and actually hearing their heart. Not answer, solve, and save. Just hear, see and love.“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” -Jimi Hendrix
The Power of Listening in Helping People Change: https://hbr.org/2018/05/the-power-of-listening-in-helping-people-change
Brené Brown: www.thedaringway.com