By Charlotte Lankard —The Oklahoman
When someone deeply listens to you, it is like holding out a dented cup you’ve had since childhood and watching it fill up with cold, fresh water. When it balances on top of the brim, you are understood. When it overflows and touches your skin, you are loved.
When someone deeply listens to you, your bare feet are on the earth and a beloved land that seemed distant is now at home within you.
— John Fox
The poem titled ‘‘Finding What You Didn’t Lose” was given to me by my friend Jan Greene. Whenever I read it I am reminded of a visit I had with my granddaughter Jessica when she was 16. I asked her what was the hardest thing about being 16. “Adults don’t really listen to you,” she replied.
When I protested that I thought her family listened to her, she helped me understand that while we adults stop to listen, we are also quick to interrupt with advice. “When that happens, I stop talking,” she told me.
Thanks to Jessica, I was reminded again that when we stop listening and begin to offer advice, we often miss important information about the other person, and even though our advice is given out of care and concern, it is likely to be heard as criticism.
To have people in your life who are genuinely interested in what you have to say, and who listen, really listen to you- without interruption- is a gift.
As we compile our Christmas gift list for those special to us, perhaps we might consider adding the gift of listening. No shopping is required and no price tag is attached, and according to poet John Fox, the recipient will feel understood and loved.
What better gift to give or to receive?
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Republished with permission from The Oklahoman, NewsOK