A Little Attention Please or The Importance of Listening
Just this last week I witnessed numerous situations where people were frustrated, disappointed and angry, myself included. In each encounter the upset person felt unheard or unappreciated or discounted. It left me thinking how a little bit of listening or empathy could go along way to help these situations.
Here are a few of these situations:
- A young friend of mine has a new boss who is highly transactional, and my friend is highly relational. He now feels insignificant, as if his opinion and work don’t matter.
- My four-month-old granddaughter cried out, which is totally normal for a baby, but she did so because she was hungry and had a wet diaper. Some attention please!
- One person said, “I feel like my political party is a train that left the tracks." His believes his opinion and political beliefs used to be in the middle of the bull’s eye, and now don’t even hit the target.
- A child who is trying to connect with his parents, but they’re self-absorbed in workaholism and their own social media accounts. The son just wants to feel a part of his own family.
- My friend was unhappy with a product he bought, so he decided to blast the company through his social media feed rather than just mail it back and ask for a refund. Incidentally, I happen to own several of these products…and love them.
Famed author and psychologist, Victor Frankl, wrote in his book Man's Search for Meaning about the concept of Stimulus – Pause – Response. He explained that we can't control the stimulus that comes at us from myriad places, but…we can control how we respond. We do this by making the “Pause” (that nanosecond of self-awareness) a response that changes the situation for good.
Each example above is different, yet a common element is that these people feel like they’re just not being heard? The philosopher, Kim Becker (my wife), frequently says, “Life is about choices.” So what should I choose to do when I’m in a situation like the ones described above? Of course, there are many choices I could make. On one end of the spectrum I could get out my megaphone and send a blaring message to those around me because I want to be heard.
Instead, today I'm going to choose to listen, really listen to someone who's frustrated or angry or in need of a friend or a listening ear. I’m going to choose to show empathy that just might lead to healing. I’m going to pause and face them, make eye contact, and I'm not going to give advice unless they ask for it. I will give my empathy, love, and genuine attention.
Maybe it will even help them. I know it will help me. Responding like this might just help someone rewrite their story ending so it’s more powerful, meaningful and filled with hope.
Yes! I know it's ironic that on the day when I'm going to listen, I post about it in this blog.
This blog shares perspectives on how you have the ability to create new story endings that are meaningful, powerful and filled with hope. Is your organization needing to change its culture or create a transformation plan? That’s what I help organizations do…I facilitate culture changing processes that help organizations achieve greater impact. Also, I provide leadership coaching to help executives and aspiring leaders become the fullest expression of who they’re intended to be.
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