In today’s crazy 24/7, cell phone, social media, multi-tasking, and over scheduled worlds, are we truly listening to our spouse, children, co-workers and friends when they are talking to us?
I profess to be guilty as charged. Recently I made a vow to be “Present when I am Present”. This sounds easy in theory but not as easy in practice.
Interestingly, this request came for my husband. My husband makes no other demands on me whatsoever; no cooking, no cleaning, no scheduling activities. I mean nothing! One would think that fully listening was an easy request. Well, let me tell you, it took work!
The bottom line is we are programmed to multi-task and many of us have made listening to one another just another item on our to do lists. What I have learned through this experience is that even if you are listening while doing the laundry, paying the bills and unloading the dishwasher; you may be taking in the information, but does the person you are listening to feel like they are being heard?
I have started to examine this behavior to see where else in life I am making the same mistake.
At work, how many of you have said to a co-worker, while typing and e-mail, “Go on, I am listening”? Meanwhile, you never look up from your computer screens. How many of you are on conference calls with people in the same office on separate phones, while continuing to do your e-mails? Not to mention the remote attendants who are doing g-d knows what?! Come on raise your hands, we are all guilty. Are we really taking in all the information being said? Are we making our co-workers feel heard?
Now that my children are grown, out of the house (well kind of) and have their own lives, what I would not do to have the time back that I wasted doing my chores instead of sitting down on the couch and really listening to what they had to say!
This behavior also affects our friendships. Texts and e-mails are just no substitute for a good old fashion girls’ nights out, walk on the trail, movie date, glass of wine or cup of coffee!
I now take my vow to be present when I am present very seriously. I come home from work, throw down my briefcase and enjoy a nice glass of wine and great conversation with my husband. I schedule one on one time with my son when he is in from college and continue to have Saturday nail dates with my daughter. Weekly, I schedule phone calls with my remote team. I do this when I am not in the office, so I can give them my 100% undivided attention. I now never miss a weekend without at least one opportunity to spend time with a girlfriend.
I must admit that my life is a lot fuller and the world has not come to an end having not sent out one e-mail or failed to fold my laundry before going to bed.
I hope you have learned something from my experience. Thank you for listening!