This is the third part in a series titled Making Relationships Matter
A Blessed Lenten Season To All!
As I am slowly but surely replacing internet time with more prayer time, there is an increasing awareness of other areas in my life I need to improve. The more time I devote to prayer, the more I realize that one of the things I need to work on is how to become a better listener.
Because I’m a multi-tasker by nature, I don’t do a very good job listening to my husband and children especially if I’m in the middle of a chore or project. I see their conversations with me as just another task I need to add onto my already full plate of wife, mother, teacher, homemaker, daughter, sibling, friend, etc.
I try my best to play the part but even if I pretend I’m listening, my family members know when my attention is elsewhere. I realized that everytime I do this, I give everyone around me the message that chores and projects are more important than relationships.
4 Simple Steps
Lent is a perfect opportunity to continually improve my relationship with my God, my husband and my children. One way to do so is to strive to be a better listener. Here’s how:
L – Look Into The Person’s Eyes
Looking into the person’s eyes forces me to pause what I’m doing, if at all possible. It is a silent prompt for me to shift gears and turn my attention to someone who is more important.
If I’m on the computer, I turn off the screen. If I’m cooking, I put the stove on low. If I’m paying bills, I close my checkbook. If I’m reading, I put my book down.
The only exception to this, of course, is when I’m driving ;-)
O – Offer Undivided Attention
Once I’ve shifted gears, I try my best to listen to the gist of what the person saying. I acknowledge what I’m hearing, even if I don’t get the entire picture. I try not to interrupt especially when the person is still speaking.
If thoughts of my chore or task start creeping in, I surrender it to the hands of the Blessed Mother knowing that she can help take care of the task later.
Most important of all, I try to push away the voice that says “this conversation is a waste of my time”. I have to remind myself that even if what the person is telling me doesn’t seem very important to me, this conversation IS important to them.
V – Verify Information
This is the step where I ask questions so I can get a better picture of what the person is saying. This is where I ask for more details of what happened. Below are typical questions you’ll hear in our little house on the hills:
“So what did you feel when your friend said that?”
“Why did the butterfly say that to the caterpillar?”
“How did you come up with the name Champ Superhero?”
The beauty about asking questions is that the more I know the details, the more I genuinely become interested in the conversation :-)
E – Engage In Deeper Conversation
This is the time I try to share a similar story from my childhood. Or ask the person about a lesson he/she learned from their experience. Or maybe give the person some loving and encouraging words.
Sometimes, if I really need to get back to my task, I genuinely thank the person for taking their time to share their story with me.
This is also a wonderful opportunity to sneak in a hug…or two :-)
A Life Of Interruptions
Jesus’ life was full of interruptions. And yet, He took the time to listen to each person’s plea, each person’s story, each person’s disappointments, each person’s plans and dreams.
He didn’t see these people as interruptions to His greatest work.
Love was His greatest work.
And He embraced every opportunity He can to show this love…without counting the cost.