Let’s get the easy and obvious bit out-of-the-way – I like parenthesis. There I said it.
As a Life Coach I have been trained to listen – really listen – to people. As they say on Sesame Street I listen with my whole body – my ears hear, my body is calm, my eyes watch and my mouth is quiet. Got that last one? My mouth is quiet.
To really listen is to be attentive to the person speaking. You absorb what they are saying and try to remain objective. Failing objectivity (which we all do from time to time) we are at least aware that when we listen we appraise what the speaker is saying though the particular lenses of our own experience. In the case of dinner or cocktails with friends I’m 99% sure they want you on hand as a friend, not their coach, so you’ll be forgiven pristine objectivity. Plus, I can tell you from experience if you are friends with a coach you will at least twice a month admonish them to “Stop Coaching Me” especially if your buddy is a rookie coach.
Rookie coaches, we coach everybody; we love coaching that much. So back to my mouth, which if I am really listening, is quiet. This is where is gets dicey friends, but if you try, you will reap dividends: Don’t Interrupt. Got that?
Do not interrupt.
First of all it’s kind of rude.
Secondly, if you are ready to pounce on every point the speaker is making and interrupt you are not truly focused on what they are saying. You are not listening with your whole body… you are merely hearing them. Certainly this isn’t a capital crime and interruption can be easily forgiven among friends.
Yet, I challenge you to listen with your whole body the next time you find yourself in conversation. I challenge you to step back and really listen with all of your senses; to be active and engaged. It will make you better in every area of your life as you’ll get more out of every exchange – even the silly ones.
Sesame Street: Put simply I bow to the brilliance that is Sesame Workshop. I bow to the monsters, the trolls and the fairies. I bow to the human actors and the wonder this show brings my toddler. Sesame Street is amazing, the lessons are relevant for everyone. If you’d like to know more about Elmo’s advice, which he learned in pre-school, by the way, of listening with your whole body you should watch the episode titled School for Chickens. The episode aired early this season, it may have even been the season premiere.