Oh, to be listened to. What a feeling! When was the last time you had a conversation devoid of distractions? Let me guess. It was probably the day before cell phones came on the market.
This past week, a client joined our Men’s Support Group for the first time, introduced himself and spoke about his wife and children. One of the challenges he faces living with Huntington’s disease is difficulty with speaking clearly. Even so, our group members waited respectfully and patiently for him to finish sharing his thoughts.
When I was helping this client, who uses a wheelchair, back to his unit, he kept saying, “Thank you.”
“Actually, thank you, Daniel,” I said. “It was good to hear you share!” Since Daniel was grateful to be able to speak in the group and connect with others, I believed he could benefit from more opportunities to converse.
Daniel and I met the next day for a half-hour one-on-one conversation. Inside my distraction-free office, he talked. I listened. Surely, understanding what Daniel said was important. However, even more important, was giving him my undivided attention. I told him I might not be able to understand every word he spoke, but I wanted to, and would listen closely.
For the most part, I wasn’t able to understand Daniel’s individual words. However, thankfully, and by the grace of God, I was able to sense the gist of his words. We shared a meaningful conversation and connection. What an interesting person! I look forward to hearing Daniel continue to share in the Men’s Support Group, and in our one-on-one conversations.
Let’s not allow cell phones and other distractions to take away valuable opportunities to fully and compassionately listen to others. Both listening and feeling heard are such precious gifts.
With blessings and peace,