We’re now in The Season of Giving and many of you kicked it off grandly at midnight last Thursday evening. Personally, I’m not a shopper… so the thought of fighting throngs of people in the middle of the night will always keep me away, regardless of how good a deal may be.
I am not, however, a Scrooge and I do delight in gift-giving this time of year. One of the beautiful aspects of the season is that there are so many opportunities for us to give, and not just things bought at holiday sales. Chances abound for us to give of our time, our attention, our donations and our energy. Even the most destitute among us has something to give.
Perhaps you come from a family where you have to interrupt just to have a conversation. Or you work at a company where if you waited for a space in the discussion your voice would never be heard. Or maybe what you have to say next really is more important than what the other person has to share.
What?! Doesn’t sound very nice when it’s put that way, does it?
When we spend time in a conversation thinking about our response instead of listening to what the other person says, we aren’t hearing them at all. On the other hand, when we listen to the full expression of thought from another person, the conversation must slow down and our responses become more meaningful and appropriate.
Just for today, when someone engages you in conversation stop what you’re doing, look him in the eye, and hear what he is saying. Then respond. No interrupting. No thinking about what you’ll say next until it’s your turn. No assuming you already know what’s going to come out of his mouth next. Listen.
We are so rushed and, frankly, wrapped up in our “stuff” that this gift of listening may require more sacrifice and thoughtfulness than any gift placed under the tree.
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. ~Epictetus
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