This question was asked to me the other day—who is a role model of the best listener you know? As I pondered various answers—my daughter, my best friend, my dog…I started to think about what identifies a good listener.
Someone who makes good eye contact while I’m talking to them…well, my teenage daughter is out, her eyes are ALWAYS on her phone and ears ALWAYS plugged into headphones (more about that later!)
Someone who likes to listen more than talk…well, I hate to say it but when my best friend and I get together we do nothing but gab, and gab, and gab into the wee hours of the morning (as I’m sure many of you can relate!)
Someone who asks good questions about what I say…well, my dog is out, unless you count the incessant barking when a leaf blows by in the Nebraska wind.
The more I thought about it, the best examples of good listeners I could think of were actually in the kids that I see on Sunday mornings. I really want to give a shout-out to all of you parents and teachers out there for teaching our kids good listening skills, because when it comes down to it, our kids come to class and are able to make eye contact with teachers and each other; they don’t talk while others have the floor; and they ask good questions about our discussions. They really are GREAT examples of how to be good listeners!!
Now granted, we do find ourselves in a position from time to time when we need to remind our children that they are not listening. But how often do we remind ourselves that WE are not listening? Whether it’s not listening to our children when we’re on our phones, to our spouses at the end of a long day, co-workers during a meeting, or even our pets that are trying to tell us they need food? How often are we preoccupied with our own lives that we miss what’s going on right in front of us?
As for me—I been so caught up in trying to identify who the best listener is that I’ve completely missed hearing my teenage daughter’s emotion coming through the amazing music coming through her headphones. Another win for the “Parent of the Year” award…sigh. But, I’ve taken the plunge into the “metal” world, and we’re going to a concert together next week. Wish me luck, y’all! I’ll do my best to “listen” to her music on the car ride—and when the conversation lulls, I’m sure she won’t be listening at all when I switch over to a podcast.