As a child, my mom taught me to always ask questions, because people love to talk about themselves! I witnessed her inquiring with servers, hair stylists and delivery people my whole life, and I loved how people just opened up to her simply because she took the time to ask. People want to be understood and seen and I had the chance to witness the difference someone can make in day-to-day interactions with others at a young age. I’m grateful for that.
I’m sure you’ve also heard about Dale Carnegie’s start and how he was considered "the most interesting man in the room" only because he continually asked the woman sitting next to him at a dinner questions all night. He even went so far as to say, "If you want to be a good conversationalist, be a good listener. To be interesting, be interested."
However, I know I’m a talker, I can feel myself needing to fill silence with words. In our world dripping with information at every corner it’s easy to lose focus. Since I’m dedicated to curiosity and I naturally feel that impulse often, my primary intention last year was to LISTEN. Boy, what a year to focus on listening. So much happened in our global community, and I really had the chance to put my intention to use.
Now I actively listen when someone speaks, instead of immediately speaking afterwards. I strive to pause, giving intentionality to my responses. I try to be present at all times to what others are saying, not searching for a response but really getting what they are saying and where they’re coming from. For my children, I move closer to them, or even get down on their levels. Eye contact is key for everybody. It lets people know you’re focused on them and not distracted.
It’s a practice that I’m dedicated to, although some days it comes easier than others. We are born with one mouth and two ears.