My family and I have recently been spending time in the hospital with my Dad who has been encountering several serious health issues. If you know my Dad, you understand that in his mind hospital stays are inconvenient and a huge disruption to his lifestyle, so healing needs to happen quickly and on his terms. His penchant and zeal for healing as fast as possible so he could go home were unparalleled and before leaving his hospital room each day, my family members and I would often semi-jokingly say: “Be a good listener”.
Those words quickly began to resonate with me as well, forcing a long-overdue conversation with myself about the art of listening. On one particular late night drive home from the hospital I thought more about the irony of sharing those words about ‘being a good listener’ with my Dad. After all, he had shared them with me countless times during my childhood (and yes, even into my adult life) but now the roles were reversed and I was sharing them with him. I was reminded about all the times I had said those very words to my own children & grandchildren: “Be a Good Listener at story hour” or “Listen to your Coach/Trainer/Teacher” and of course the all important and most frequently used, “Listen to Me“.
Was I A Good Listener or had I lost sight of that myself in the hustle-bustle of every day life?
Being a good listener requires many things. Being present and clearly focused on each and every second is a great place to start. Being aware and understanding what is being communicated…and what isn’t. Listening requires patience and good communication skills…. and the list goes on and on. Did I have those things? Was I DOING those things?
I started thinking about the most recent rides I had with my horse, Max. Was I good at listening and understanding him when he was telling me he didn’t understand what I asking of him? Was I really listening and understanding his body language and actions? Did I sometimes become frustrated with HIM because I wasn’t listening?
It was a long drive home from the hospital and I had ample time to take a look at my own listening skills and guess what? I discovered my own listening skills needed a tune-up & here are some tips:
- In today’s fast-paced, high-energy, tech-driven world, it can be easy to overlook if we’re really listening? Take the time to evaluate your listening skills…you might be surprised at the results.
- Stay in the present moment…no more looking back at the past or jumping into the future. If you’re riding your horse, ride your horse. Don’t think about what you need at the grocery store, if the car needs to be washed or how far behind you are on the laundry. Ride your horse!
- Take a breath, take a moment and slow down. That’s not always easy in today’s crazy world but it’s doable and it’s conducive to being a good listener.
- Relax. As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and that applies to life as well. Problems and issues will get resolved at exactly the time they’re supposed to.
- Know & understand the difference between hearing and really listening. There IS a difference.
- Being a good listener will only enhance your relationships with family, friends and of course your relationship with your horse. Who doesn’t want that?
- ENJOY! Relish and savor each moment of life whether it’s with family and friends or in an arena working with your horse.
I love how a simple conversation about “Being A Good Listener” with my Dad propelled me to take a look at that area in my own life. It was certainly time. I hope and believe that fine-tuning my listening skills will make me better in all facets of my life and I’m committed and focused on doing just that.
What about you? Are you a good listener or could you use a tune-up with your family, friends and horses as well? Share your thoughts and ideas on how you’re improving your listening skills and life!
Until next time!