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Am I listening?

I have worked hard to try to be an avid listener. Several years ago, I met with a friend and shared with her that I wasn’t a good listener. I asked her to help me become a better listener. She was excited to help me. She even worked with me for a whille to get better at this important skill, but I am not sure how much I have improved. At one point, I thought about giving up and just accepting that I am not a good listener. Thankfully, I am not good at giving up and am still trying to get better at listening.

I was at a conference this week and attended a session about supporting others. The main focus of the discussion was listening. The speaker even asked the audience “Are you listening?” When I heard (I was actually listening) the question, I immediately thought I need to hear this and pay attention. 

Mariah reminds me all the time that I never listen. She may be right and I will say the boys motor mouths are sometimes just too much for my ears. As I sit here with the boys, Max just told me that “I never pay attention.” I have even been told by a colleague that she “wonders sometimes if I am even here.”  Surely, I am listening because I heard all of these things. The fact that I heard that has to demonstrate that I was listening, right?

We all know that there is active listening and passive listening. What Mariah and my colleague were both communicating to me was that they don’t feel that I am listening. I may be good at passively listening, but maybe I am not so good at actively listening. Furthermore, I worry that I haven’t honored my friends effort and I may have more work to do to be a better active listener. 

I really don’t think I am the best judge of myself since I am not the one trying to feel heard. Therefore, I need your input. I am going to ask a few questions and I need honest answers. I need the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so that I can really now if you are feeling heard by me. Here are the questions and your answers will help me know how well I am doing at being a good, active listener:

  1. How would you describe a good listener?
  2. Do you feel that I am a good listener?
  3. Do you feel heard when you talk to me?
  4. What can I do better so that you feel heard by me?
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