Listen – Tip #41
Active listening is a skill. Some people are born with it, some people have to work hard on it and some people may never get it. I am hopeful that I fall under the category of having to work on it rather than never getting it. Having said that I am often shocked at how many people don’t really listen or give their 100% attention when people speak. They are either thinking about what they are going to say next, thinking about all the things they have to do, or simply just watching the person’s lips move!
A few months ago I was stressed out, busy with work and trying to prepare for this deployment. I found myself getting caught into the trap of not listening to my kids properly at least 75% of the time and multi-tasking when I should just been listening! I began to realize that they were taking this to mean that I didn’t care. Their Dad is a great listener so I always had him to fall back on if I was too tired or busy with work but now that he is deployed, I have made a commitment to be a much better listener and follow my own advice.
* I have set aside time just to be with the kids uninterrupted (dinner time).
* I don’t answer the phone or even have it close by throughout dinner
* The TV and all devices are off
* I no longer multi-task the same way – even when I am making dinner I stop to listen more
My new tip for listening is also to try to be less reactive to what they are saying. By doing this, I think that they are sharing more with me. They are less and less worried about what my reaction is and more concerned with getting it off their chest. I believe it is crucial that we know what is happening in our kid’s lives – the good, the bad and the ugly. Our reactions determine whether they tell us more and things later on.