Just Listen

My dad used to advise me to, “Just say thank you!”  This was always in response to the fact that I would go into all sorts of strange gyrations after being given a compliment.

“I like your dress.”

Me: “Oh…it’s old,” or, “I got it on sale.  It was cheap!”

“Your hair looks great.”

Me: “I don’t know.  I think it’s too long, and I’m not really sure about the bangs.”

Dad said that every time I give this kind of response, it’s a rejection of the compliment.  It’s like if someone throws you a nice gift, and, instead of catching it, you just hit it straight back at them. Instead, he said, I should catch the gift and say thanks!

I’ve worked on my response to compliments, thanks to my dad’s direct and honest feedback, and I’m getting better.  Now, when someone gives me a compliment, I try to take a deep breath, give myself a minute, and just say, “Thank you.”  It’s hard, but I do it.  It’s hard, but it’s definitely right.

Last week, I attended a conference on instructional coaching.  One of the activities had to do with listening.  The activity was simple enough.  We were in partnerships.  One partner was to talk for a few minutes, and the other partner was to listen.  By listen, the presenter meant that we were to say nothing.  NOTHING! This sounds easy, but it was really hard for me.  I do know this about myself, and I have received some feedback about it recently.  At about two thirds of the way into a conversation, I often jump in, anticipating where the speaker is headed. I don’t know if I’m being impatient, trying to lean in, trying to encourage, or trying to understand, but I know it’s wrong.  I know that I don’t know where the speaker is headed or where they might go if I just listened. I imagine, like with the compliment, the speaker probably feels somewhat rejected when I jump in.

So now I’m working on my listening.  At meetings, I’m saying to myself, “Just listen!” I’ve had to coach myself to stay quiet, jot in my notebook if I’m about to jump in, even place my hand over my mouth to remind myself to be quiet.  It’s hard, but I’m doing it.  It’s hard, but it’s definitely right.

I’m thinking that maybe my One Little Word for 2020 should be LISTEN.

14 thoughts on “Just Listen”

  1. Advice we could all use. Listening is a both a skill we can all work on – well, I know I can. Using a my journal as a teaching tool is what taught me to listen better to kids. I find when I write what they are saying, I am controlling my impulse to respond too soon or simply cut them off – I also found that my journal became somewhat of a management tool as when I was writing, all the kids would be waiting for me to finish, hence listening themselves. I often say, in the classroom, my journal taught me to shut up and listen! Thanks for sharing – I will work on listening better today!

  2. Someone once asked me, “What if you treated everything everyone said to you as a contribution to your life?” That question has stayed with me, and like you, it often means not jumping in and saying what’s on my mind. Rather it means more listening. The subtle message in your slice is that if we listen- really listen- to someone, it can be a great gift– like a compliment is a gift. Love this so much!

    1. Thank you for this! The idea of treating everything everyone says as a contribution is so powerful, and I love the way it connects to my dad’s advice about accepting compliments. I’ve written down the quote and posted it to my computer. This will guide me as I work on listening. Thank you for your coaching!

  3. Your writing clearly connects what seems like two disparate scenarios in one beautiful image and one that I can definitely relate to! I have “gyrated” at the compliments of others, and I have interrupted speaking before listening and what a humbling feeling it is to recognize one’s own impulsiveness.
    Thank you for the gift of this writing!

  4. Listen was my OLW this year & it was powerful. Like you, I jump in too often and speak when I should be silent. Sigh. I love your reflections here & the various responses. I’m still working on listening; its a powerful choice.

  5. I’m so glad we were on the same page today with our listening posts! How funny! I hope we both improve our listening skills. I am trying to figure out a way to tell a friend that her interrupting is rude. We see each other weekly most of the year. But, she has a habit of interjecting a comment about something she notices (a tree, a flower, a dog, a house) in the middle of a story (any story) I am telling. It is totally off subject and not related to our conversation. It really throws me off and I lose concentration when it occurs, now. I almost find myself waiting for her to “do it.” Any suggestions?

    1. OMG! That sounds like my husband! Of course I just tell him it is rude. I probably wouldn’t do that to your friend. Maybe you could just say that you lose concentration when she interrupts your train of thought. I think that is strong, but also a pretty kind way to ask her not to interject (especially if it’s off topic). Let me know how it goes!

      1. Thanks for the advice. Due to the holidays we have only walked once recently. And, she didn’t do it! LOL….Always the way! I’ll let you know what happens if I get the chance to let her know how her interjection affects me. Thanks, again!

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