Today I picked my eight-year-old daughter up from her elementary school (we only live two miles away). I pulled up and she jumped in the car, as she was excitedly flashing a smile on her face. Before the car door was even closed shut and her seat belt buckled, she was talking 90 miles a minute. During the three-minute drive home, I was totally bombarded with the details of her day. Full blast.
I’ll be honest — it was exhausting to hear. The lunch room, her teacher, the playground…you get the picture. At one point, I turned the dial on the radio, hoping she’d take a breath — but she just talked louder. When we pulled into the driveway, I quickly dismissed the conversation and headed in the house to get our evening routine started.
Recently, I have felt similar feelings when surfing Facebook, watching the news, or having conversations with friends. It’s no secret that our political climate is full of social ambiguity and anger. People are talking 90 miles a minute, spewing their thoughts like third-graders all over social media and really any other platform they can. It’s exhausting. I just want to dismiss all the conversations and stick to my routine.
But what if I take a moment to listen? Not respond, but truly listen.
Communication is complicated. Sometimes, when we want to share our story or experience, we result to a rapid firing of every thought, every detail. When we feel others aren’t listening, we get louder. This is a result of not feeling heard (and truthfully, many times, not being heard).
During dinner, my husband asked the standard question, “How was everyone’s day?” Our daughter went to explain that she was excited about a class presentation that she was in charge of. I said, “Wow, that’s great — I didn’t know that!” And of course she said, “Mom, I told you all about it in the car!”
As exhausting as it can be, I encourage you to hear others. Listen and reflect. Because you may miss something important.
by Heather Cunningham — to learn more about Heather’s work, please visit thinktank-inc.org