Learning from children: Am I actively listening?

When was the last time you remember that you had practiced active listening?

I have noticed that as I become caught in my everyday tasks, I tend to focus on that task rather than become aware of surrounding environment. This includes listening to other while I am doing something else. Although I believe that you can train yourself for multitasking, I have found that I probably don’t have that much capacity. Instead, probably I can multitask in some but not others.

One of the thing I can’t do anymore is to do my own thing and forgot to listen to my niece’s voice. About a year ago, I used to do my own things while playing with my niece. One day, I had to ask myself “if I don’t do this task now, is that life or death task? will that cause any problem to others?” The answer was obviously NO. I can find time to complete this task afterwards.

Since this realisation, no matter what I was doing, I try my best to take time out with her. If I am really need to return to what I was doing, I will set a time. If I am in the middle of my thinking, I will quickly finish off or write down whatever in my mind then turn to her.

The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention.

Richard Moss

From when I was young, I have several people commented on my thinking process. It seems like we were talking but I often wonder off to my own thinking. Then, I will comment on something that seems so irrelevant to the topic they were talking about; however, for me there is a link. What’s missing is I don’t explain enough how I reach that point.
Recently, a friend commented about how I have ability to have multiple topic at once, with same person, or with multiple people. Well, that’s something I used to do when online chat rooms were popular.
So, it is obvious I am not a good communicator. I will jump from a topic to another to another. It might be a word someone said, or a thought just come into my mind or something I see triggered my memory.

Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self.

Dean Jackson

When I listen to something, a story, a report, or a seminar, I listen with intent to understand, at the beginning. However, as I illustrated above, I will wonder off trying to grasp what does it mean to me or how does it relate to me. In that sense, I always make myself as the center of the attention, instead of giving it to others who’s trying their best to communicate with me.

Most people do not listen with intent to understand;

they listen with intent to reply.

Stephen R. Covey

When I intent to listen and understand what has been communicated with me, many question will rise from within. In some cases, these questions will be answered during the conversation, in other cases, these questions remain questions. This is when I start to ask questions until I feel like I am satisfied with the answer. Still unresolved, I will continue on with the wondering and pondering, asking around until I feel like I have the answer I wanted. This is why I wonder off to my own world, searching for an answer/answers.

Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.

Bernard Baruch

I have found I like to share my thoughts, experience or beliefs. However, I have also learnt to listen attentively will allow others to share their own thoughts, experience and beliefs. It is like learning a new information that I’ve never imagined.

I had a following conversation with my niece one day.
Niece: Are you listening to me?
Me: Yes. I am but I am also doing my own study.
Niece: I can see that but do you hear what I’ve said?
Me: Yes. You said that…
Niece: Is your study really important?
Me: Yes.
Niece: More than listening to me?
Me: No.
Niece: You know, you only have this moment with me as five years old me.

That phrase was enough to stop me doing what I was doing and turn over to her and attentively listen to her. So true. If time is so precious, I only have this moment to spend with her as who she is at this given moment. She will be different person again and so do I.

What are you listening to at this given moment?
Are you communicating with your 100% attention? Are you allowing them to blossom and express as well?

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