The power behind listening strengthens all relationships! The question is how well do you do it? When someone else is talking, what exactly are you doing? Are you sitting on your thoughts? With experience and self-discipline at the forefront I have found “sitting on my thoughts” to be the best tool for building relationships. As I enter this holiday break with both a 12 and 16 year old at home, I feel that I have already learned so much more about them just by being there… oh, the power behind listening!
The phrase “sitting on your thoughts” started when my 16 year old son Trent was about 8 years of age. He had been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and was in need of a strong dose of filtration, boundaries, and acceptance for his thoughts (just to name a few areas of need). One of the biggest roadblocks was his need to say what was on his mind… this was part of his “make-up” yet reminded me of so many people that I had interacted with over time. The strong urge to be real with others was a must for him. This could go right and at times very wrong. I had to teach him to not give himself permission to say whatever he felt compelled to share. I told him to sit on his thoughts and filter what was relevant and would unleash positive impact. I’m not saying that there isn’t a time for those real thoughts and tough conversations, but I wanted him to manage his own in order to bring quality perspective to a conversation. This is how I felt I could raise him to be the man he himself would be proud of one day. Would his words be valued for kindness? Would his words help to make others better? Or would his words create a hole in someone’s heart… leaving them feeling less in place of more because he had a need to say it. The question I remind him to ask himself is… is it really worth saying or should you simply sit on your thoughts?
While you are “sitting” go one step further… what look are you portraying?
“The look of” hurry up I have something to say? This is one I have felt from others and I am guessing you have too. Did they really hear you or did you hear what the person is saying? Are you racking up a rebuttal, a solution, or a personal experience that connected to the topic? The one that is on the tip of your tongue ready to share. Or did you just interject, right there in the middle of their story? Although my friends tell me that I am an amazing listener and am someone they feel they can always go to, there is no doubt I have fallen into every single one of these “scenarios” at one time or another.
Are you actually present and listening?
Or are you waiting to talk?
Do you feel you are engaged, but your eyes are telling a different story?
This holiday season while you are gathered with family and friends, just try it… sit on your thoughts. Listen. Learn. Love.