Sunday, October 4, 2015

Listening...getting curious

I've written about listening before. But I want to write about it again. Because listening is...well, it's the most important (I believe) part of communication, relationships, and growth.

I have been privileged to have encountered and become friends with some incredible listeners over the years. They've taught me about nurturing relationships and the art of empathy. You know what they all have in common?

Curiosity.

They get curious when they're listening. Instead of drawing their own conclusions after hearing a few sentences, they ask, probe, inquire, dig around. Man! What a difference that makes in a conversation.

Example 1:
Me: I started Laundry Love in Georgetown.
Friend: What's Laundry Love?
Me: Well, it's simple. We team up with a laundromat and provide free laundry once a month to whoever needs it.
Friend: Oh. Cool. That's good that you're doing that.
-the end-

Example 2:
Me: I started Laundry Love in Georgetown
Friend: What's Laundry Love?
Me: Well, it's simple. We team up with a laundromat and provide free laundry once a month to whoever needs it.
Friend: Interesting. So how does helping people with their laundry make a difference?
Me: I see it as an entry point. A way to start relationships and learn about the people in our community.
Friend: Ohhh, I see. So what have you learned?
Me: I've learned that a financial burden is extremely heavy. And I've learned that people right here in our community are struggling with hard stuff and they've overcome hard stuff and they work hard, but they need better resources for affordable housing, food, child care, transportation, and getting jobs.
Friend: Gosh, I never even thought of that. What sorts of things are they struggling with?
....and on and on until who knows when.

When we don't get curious and start probing, we miss out on a lot of important details. And we *may* make assumptions about motives, purpose, worth, or value as a result of not asking questions.

Sometimes I am really freaking good at getting curious. And sometimes I hear something that either causes me to shut down and tune out or I feel a wave of hot anger fly up from my heart to my head. In those moments, it is incredibly hard to remember to get curious. And so that's exactly what I'm going to be mindful of. Getting curious and investigating the inner world of the person I'm talking to...instead of tuning out or becoming inappropriately angry just because I don't like what I'm hearing.

xo,
Curious Erin

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