Are You Listening?
As a college student, in the late 60’s, I researched the topic of listening, and it’s importance in the elementary classroom. The assignment included a role-playing demonstration that I thought was a waste of my time, as well as the other members of the class asked to participate. I believe now that the passage of time and personal experiences have taught me otherwise
I have been blessed in my life with a few treasured friends who exemplify the very best qualities of active, engaged listening, and it is a healing experience to be in their presence. These friends very humbly silence their own minds, and give their attention completely to whoever is speaking. They do not allow their focus to wander aimlessly about thinking random thoughts, and risk missing the richness of the present moment, and the love in human encounters.
I know that at this time in my life my four-year-old granddaughter and three-year-old grandson are helping me become a better listener.
Ahna is very straightforward and will ask, ” Grandmom, are you listening to me?” She can read my body language, tone of response, and other nuances that she observes. Her favorite stories are ones I tell her about her dad when he was little or tales of my pets or happy encounters of my classroom years. She listens so intently and she will correct me if I have changed the tale just a little because my memory or listening skills are no match for hers. What an example she is for me.
Lukah, my grandson, also knows when I am not fully engaged when listening. He has an amazing ability to speak and communicate with his big puppy dog eyes. They say, “I love you! You are wonderful! I am happy to see you!” When I speak to him or he is speaking to me, something else might catch my attention. He notices and will turn my head to read my eyes, because eye contact and facial expression are as important to Lukah as the words spoken. All admirable qualities that I am learning to add to my practice of listening respectflly.
I believe as children we are born with a gift of almost “reverent ” listening, and somewhere along the way we get so self-absorbed that the gift is diminished significantly.
Now it is the year 2007 not the 60’s, but I am 60,and I am in class again. My current Professors, my grandchildren, Ahna and Lukah, are blessed examples of active engaged listeners, and my assigned role playing encounters with them are priceless. As you can see by that last comment, I no longer perceive my role-playing a waste of my time or theirs and I am eager for my next assignment given orally by Ahna, ” Tell me that story about the … again Grandmom. I’m listening!”
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