There have been many times in my life when I have been invited, sometimes strongly, to stop talking and JUST LISTEN.
Have you been invited? Perhaps you haven’t recognized the call. Maybe you missed it.
Invitations of this kind don’t come embossed on beautiful paper finely penned. They arrive as the messy and blurted words of a frustrated person who doesn’t feel heard.
A loved one shutting down in the midst of a heated argument. A co-worker with a brilliant idea clamming up at a meeting while other voices take the stage. Slammed doors, unfinished sentences, shrieked expletives. All of these are invitations to listen. Invitations ignored.
Once, while passing by an indoor pool near a hotel lobby I overheard a man commanding a child to get out of the water.
The boy repeated time after time, “Grandpa, I can’t get out.” With each refusal the man spoke louder and became increasingly more annoyed.
“But Grandpa, the little one kept saying, I can’t.”
I had to take a closer look. The young swimmer was in the shallow end of the pool paddling madly and struggling to step onto the stairs. He was dwarfed by the ancient orange canvas life jacket he wore. I knew from one summer as a lifeguard that the jacket was keeping him afloat but weighing him down as he tried to stand. He really couldn’t get out of the pool.
The elder of the two was hearing but not really listening. Finally, a breakthrough. The child, in tears, sputtered “Grandpa, it’s too heavy.” His grandfather, at last, understood.
Listening, truly listening, lifts burdens. Lends a hand, lightens the load.
Mark Nepo, in The Book of Awakening writes. “So often when we refuse to listen, we become obsessed with remaking the world in our own image, rather than opening the spirit within us to the spirit of what is.”
Can you be with what is? Really?
Can you be in a moment of your own agitation or importance or exhaustion and ask another “What is going on for you right now?”.
Can you sit by the side of a person in tears and simply allow the misery to be shared?
Can you let the creative genius of a group emerge by meeting their crazy schemes with “Tell me more?”.
Nepo goes on to say, “Ours is not to make ourselves heard but to be still enough to hear.”
Today, I invite you to be still enough to hear. Then listen, really listen.
So, what keeps you from listening? What advice to you have for listening better? Before you go. Write your comment in the box below. I’m listening.
Interested in Mark Nepo’s book? The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the One You Have
I’m excited about the November release of his new book too! Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering Approaching Wholeness
Author: Cathy Shaughnessy
Cathy Shaughnessy is a PRISM award winning ICF Master Certified Coach and author of the book series The Really Competent Coach. Cathy coaches senior leaders, mentors credentialed coaches, trains fledgling coaches and helps organizations build strong coaching cultures.
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