I just got home from spending time at my parents place in Kitchener for our annual barbecue. It’s always fun to get to catch up with family members and friends that you know you will only see once or twice a year and this is always one of those times.
There was enough food to feed an army and enough laughter to fill anyone’s soul. What better combination is there than that? But as much as the food and the atmosphere make for a memorable experience, I find that it’s the conversations and the interactions that have the greatest lasting impact.
My brother and I got deep into it today, he’s one of those that I love to spend time with one on one just chopping it up. His insights are invaluable and he’s a great listener. There’s nothing that kills a conversation quicker than one side that doesn’t listen well. It annoys the hell out of me when you’re thinking that you’re having a conversation with someone until you notice that they’re only waiting for their chance to speak. And believe me, I have been that person before.
There was another couple there, Karen and Rocky, that I got to spend some time with. I’ve known them since I was a child going to church and Karen would teach our Sunday school class. I haven’t seen them in years, and to get to sit down and spend a good half hour or so telling stories and catching up was beautiful. I was telling my dad after they had left about how you lose touch with certain people and then when you get back together you realize how much you enjoy their company.
When you take the time to listen and engage there is so much you can learn from what you hear and what you say. Have you ever caught yourself saying something for the first time and realize that you didn’t know you felt that way until the words came out of your mouth? I suppose this also allows opportunities for you to insert your foot into your mouth depending on the circumstance. I take it we’ve all been there.
Really though, how are your listening skills? Next time you are chatting with someone pay attention to how well or how bad you listen to what they have to say. Are you just waiting for your chance to speak or are you actually engaging in true conversation? All through time stories and information have been passed down through the spoken word, but the only way that information could be received was by a good listener on the other end.
Make time for family fun, take time to listen and make time to learn. You never know who might have that one thing to say that changes your life. It could be an elderly person with a ton of life experience or it could be a toddler speaking an innocent truth that you needed to hear. One thing that I do promise you though, is that if you listen, the answers are all there.
Listen and learn my friends.