Being present to another person is one of the greatest gifts we can give especially in the age of distraction. I found it difficult as a young mother to give the kind of attention to my children that I give to my grandchildren. I had a thousand things on my mind back then – grocery shopping, laundry, a demanding job, managing money, and more. Today, I am retired and I can just give all of my attention to the grandchildren.
Today there are even more available distractions. How many times have you walked into a restaurant and seen all four people at a table looking down at their phones? At the risk of sounding like my grandmother, how can they do that? What could be more important than the people you are with?
Active listening is powerful. There is no better feeling than knowing that you have been heard and understood. So often in conversations, we may express something that is deeply meaningful and expect some kind of acknowledgment but our conversation partner has already moved on to their topic. This can cause us not to acknowledge whatever they are talking about and both parties end up frustrated.
I’ve been guilty of thinking more about what I want to say next rather than really listening. I had to work hard to stop that habit. It was well worth it. I learn a lot by listening to others. Listening has helped me deepen my relationships. I still have to make an effort when I start a conversation to slow myself down and be present.
Choosing to be available to another person is one of my being goals. I try to do this in every interaction. This is not always possible, but I work hard at being available to those relationships most important to me.