Sunday, October 14, 2012

Are You Listening?

Hey! Are you listening to me??

I have been seeing a wonderful local life coach for several weeks now. I make an effort to pay for this service because I believe that it is something very valuable that I am willing to invest for myself. It is both practical and symbolic, I learn so much from her, she helps me stay on track with my goals, but also I am investing in myself to be Authentic and truly me. I am spending valuable time with a woman who is authentically herself who can role model this life skill and others for me. She is very honest, in a compassionate and loving way.

In this loving and compassionate way she was able to tell me that I need to work on listening skills. I knew immediately that I was caught, in the corner, nowhere to go but UP. 

I have been a lifelong interrupter, I have so many ideas racing through my mind, and if I don’t speak, write or draw it right away I might loose it. Even this blog post came to me on an instant moment of thought, I was sitting with my mother and Aunt having a wonderful conversation at their home, when I stepped away for a moment and whoosh in flew this blog. I knew I had to race to my computer before it flew away. So I ran back to my mother and Aunt and kissed them goodbye, telling them I had this blog idea and raced home to my computer. Nearly distracted by dishes, leftovers and unfinished art projects, I almost lost it. An echo flashed in my mind and I found my computer before it was too late.

My name is Kristine Binderup and I interrupt, often. Sometimes it is because I have a wonderful idea that might help, or a great story that goes along with what was just said. Other times I thing so highly of my ideas that I forget to listen, this is sad. I think of all the people I have interrupted and prevented them telling me their great ideas, their great stories.

I honestly do not do this out of conscious disrespect nor because I don’t value that person. In fact many times I want to help them. I think that my understanding of what they are saying is helpful to them. It is also partly because in my family it isn’t rude to interrupt, in fact it might be the only way to be heard at all. At Family gatherings people are talking all at once, debating, yelling, laughing and joking. The main conversation easily breaks into smaller ones as people jostle to be heard. It doesn’t help that we all seem to be predisposed to hearing loss. ;)

So there I sat, cornered, and called out about my bad listening skills. Right when I thought to become a Child Development coach, an inspirer of great teaching, and helper of childcare providers and homeschoolers. I would most certainly need to listen in order to share my wide range of experience with my clients. Well luckily I had a great role model and teacher.

First my life coach talked about the three types of Listening.
Type 1) Conversational listening, where you might take turns sharing stories, talk at a rapid pace, share time, build a rhythm, question, counter and even interrupt. This is the kind I am MOST practiced with.
Type2) Active listening, where you are spending your time and energy on the other person. Really there with them and their story, staying out of it, allowing them to have the space and time to share their story, feelings, and thoughts. You might question them with open-ended guiding questions, but it is all about them. It is an easy flowing listening; you are just present with what they are saying.
Type 3) Intuitive listening, this is a level up listening, you are following everything form type 2, but you are also seeing their body language, you are super aware of what is happening around. Maybe even sensing their feelings, very connected to this person in how you listen, compassionate feelings for what they are talking about. You are also very conscious of what is going on around and how to bring it into the conversation if needed.  I think I also am pretty good at this when I am able to do type 2.

After the explanation we did an exercise where she used all the different types of listening on me so that I could become aware of how it all felt. I could tell when she was doing type 1 because it was very awkward for her. She is a very good listener. I also felt the flow of what I was trying to say was badly interrupted. I had to take a moment to get back on track and think about what I had been saying. At this point a lot of guilt came up about all the times I haven’t listened. Especially my daughter, she is always saying that I never listen to her…

Happy I can listen now!
So my homework this week has been to listen to people, from my family and friends to people I encounter on the street or in public. It has been interesting because of course I am coming from a place of loving myself, and being my authentic self, but I am just noticing when I am using the different types of listening. I have had a lot of chances to practice as I am spending a lot of time with my daughter who is on maternity leave (her due date is October 24th!!!). I have been listening to her, and I just notice and laugh a bit when I am using type 1 and move into type 2 or even type 3 if I can. I think she is appreciating the time too, our love and friendship is repairing and growing after a couple of hard teenaged years.

So here is to listening, an important skill for any parent or teachers; an important skill for any human.


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