I recently went on a trip with my high school friends to celebrate our birthdays. Yesterday, I received a small package in the mail and a short letter from one of my high school friends who happened to be my roommate for the weekend of our trip. On the note was probably one of the best compliments that we, as people, work so hard to attain... "You are a great listener." She proceeded to let me know how I listened by being open to what she was saying, not interrupting while she talked and asking the right questions that made her think deeply about what she was trying to say.
This reminded me of Step 2--Connecting, from Powerful Interactions. One of the seven strategies in Step 2 is Listen to Children. Listening is more than just hearing the words that are spoken. It means that the listener has to make a conscious effort to pay attention in order to find meaning in what the speaker says, or does not say, not only with words but with body language.
I want you to do me a favor. Answer these questions.
1. How do I feel when someone listens carefully to me?
2. How do I feel when someone is open to my words and doesn't interrupt me?
3. How do I feel when someone pays attention to me?
I don't know what your answers are, but I can tell you that mine are: "I feel important. I feel valued. It makes me feel special." I'm thinking that my answers are not too off base from yours. It takes practice, and I want to continue to work on the art of listening because I desire for people to feel important, valued, and special.
Here are some tips for Listening to Children from Powerful Interactions.
Put yourself at the child's level
Give a child time to gather their thoughts
Send the message that "I hear you" as the child talks
Acknowledge the child's feelings
We, as adults, are not very different from children when it comes to the feeling we get when someone is truly listening to us and not just hearing the words we are speaking. It may have taken me awhile to figure out that I'm on the right track, but I thank my high school girlfriend for noticing this about me.