… and Christmas is one of those times.
Listening with the intention of understanding, hearing and recognising the value of words shared by others, takes time and concentration. Recent coaching sessions have reminded me of this focus, and how important it is. Of course a coaching environment is designed to allow and encourage ‘listening with intention’ and so the time needed to support this is made available.
The opposite of this is ‘listening to respond’; asking a question but then just waiting to share your own thoughts, opinion or experience without really processing the other person’s actual response. Day to day, our time can feel limited and our conversations with friends, work colleagues or quick catch ups with family will, most likely survive and tick along happily in the normal ‘quick fire’ style….
So what might be the impact of ‘listening with intention’, more often? And what does this have to do with Christmas?
I love Christmas, a lot, and having a small child who shares the excitement is making me even giddier! However, not everyone feels like this about the festive period and in fact it can be a very lonely or sad time for people. Not everyone will readily admit to how they really feel. They most likely don’t want to risk, that they might bring down other people’s festive spirit by being honest. It isn’t easy for people to admit that they are finding things tough at any time, but perhaps more so at Christmas time as it goes against the grain of Christmas.
I have friends and family members who find things tough and I’m trying to remember this during my time with them, particularly at this time of year. Sometimes what feels like a small action for us can have a big impact on those around us.
People don’t need a song and dance, and they might not want to talk, however there is no harm in asking ‘how are you?’ and then taking the time to really listen if they do choose to share their feelings. If they say ‘fine, thanks’ but you have a hunch that might not be the case then there is no harm in asking twice … ‘I recognise this isn’t an easy time of year for you, how are you really?’
Often people won’t feel the need to share and the simple act of being asked, and feeling recognised, will be enough.
On that note, I wish you a Merry Christmas and hope that the festive weeks ahead are enjoyable and not too chaotic!