1. to pay attention to sound <listen to music>
2. to hear something with thoughtful attention: give consideration <listen to a plea>
3. to be alert to catch an expected sound <listen for his step>
“You don’t listen!”
One minute my dear friend/college roommate had been trying to give me pointers on how to cook and the next minute she had turned and walked out of the kitchen.
I continued pushing the rice cakes around on the frying pan with a spatula the only way (and best way, in my opinion) that I knew how and let out a deep breath.
Me, don’t listen? I wondered. Okay, I admit I could have tried flipping the rice cakes the way she had suggested, but why would I want to do that? I had been fine all my life doing things the way I wanted to do them, why change now?
Yes, I was a stubborn one. And yes, my friend was right.
For someone who prides herself on having good listening skills (that’s part of the reason I wanted to become a counselor), the truth is this: I don’t listen very well. Not in the sense that I don’t hear what people tell me about themselves (I could listen to people’s stories all day long), but in the sense that I don’t take into consideration the things they say about me. When it comes to hearing about my shortcomings and the areas in which I could improve upon, my ears are quick to close up shop and put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign.
|Image courtesy of photostock/freedigitalphotos.net
The incident with my friend happened over fifteen years ago and I still think about it today. Back then I was shocked and taken aback at her admonishment; now I just shake my head and cringe when I think about how impossible I must have been – all because of a spatula!
I could blame my poor listening skills on a decade of “only child syndrome” or on my controlling tendencies; either way, there really is no good excuse for being so hard headed.
What I’ve learned since then is that God gave us two ears for a reason. Listening is important. Heeding other people’s advice is crucial. Receiving input is necessary for personal growth.
For much of my life I lived based on my own (limited) perception of reality. Then I met some trustworthy friends and learned other people have good opinions, too. Then I met hubby and endured an ultimate boot camp in keeping my ears (and heart) receptive to another person on a daily basis. It’s required a lot of humbling on my part – and a lot of patience on my friends’ and hubby’s parts! – but it’s been worth it. I think it’s safe to say my ears take fewer siestas these days than they used to. 🙂
I decided to put my listening skills to the test recently by joining an online writer’s critique group. I really hesitated at first to put my work (and my fragile ego) out there, but decided that if I want to become a better writer, I need to get feedback. The first time I submitted an essay to the group, it took me half a day to get the courage to read the emails I received back. Thankfully, the ladies are all very gracious and encouraging in their critiques, which makes my part as a listener so much easier. I know they have my best intentions in mind when they correct my grammar and suggest ways I can use stronger verbs to bring a story to life. I now look forward to sharing my work with them and reading their feedback because what they say makes a positive impact on my writing.
I’m proof that stubborn people can change and that we all need a little help from our friends!
Here’s the perfect song for this post – “With a Little Help From My Friends” – sung here by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
What makes it easier for you to swallow other people’s feedback?