This is, by far, is the hardest parenting tool for most people to master, nay, the hardest relationship tool for people to master. Why? Because guys, we live in our heads, we think our thoughts are reality and we really believe if people did it 'our way' the world would be fruitful and peaceful. Am I right?
We all act according to our beliefs. If people understand our beliefs they would discover that we are the long suffering HEROES of the story. Ya with me? And that's each and everyone of us. UGH!
Listen up, people share things with us only if they feel heard. Meaning, if we don't listen, then people don't share, then we don't understand the motivation behind the behavior, then we get pissed and give a lecture, and then we don't listen, and then they clam up and the behavior continues. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Listening is a relationship builder, not a productivity tool. Meaning it takes time, it shouldn't be a task on our to do list, we should not listen with the goal of being able to talk to change their minds to think the way we do. Here are a few tips . . . .
1. Listen with an open mind, we don't have to agree, we don't have to approve, we are only listening as a way to show love and support.
2. If you must (and I often must), sit on your hands while your beloved is talking. It will remind you to zip the old lips.
3. When the beloved is done talking we are DONE. We give a hug, we walk away. If we train people that once we've been super duper generous and listened and THEN we've earned the right to lecture, well they ain't gonna come back to share anymore.
4. Notice who the good listeners are in your life. They are usually quiet, they frequently do NOT problem solve, they are patient, they reflect back to you what they have heard, they let you hear your own crazy in a safe place, after they have listened you feel better, clearer and understood.
5. It takes practice. We will make mistakes, we can always start over, sit on our hands and listen.
Listening is really and truly one of the MOST underused parenting tools. When you find yourself in your next parenting pickle, try out listening. Then, tell me what you learned because . . . "I'm Listening!"