Are You Listening?

I downloaded some new songs to the mp3 player and I decided to listen to them while I was doing some weekend projects around the house. I don’t usually wear headphones when I am around my family so you can imagine their frustration when they finally determined I was not listening to what they were saying.

How often are we in the room acting like we are part of the group, but in reality we are focusing on other things? How often do we appear to be active in the conversation but we are not really focusing on the words? How often do we have headphones on when we really need to be listening?

It is difficult to pay close attention to what is being said when we are surrounded by distractions. Distractions came in many different forms. We may be distracted by television, projects or worries about work. We may intentionally tune out of a conversation even though the other person thinks we are still focusing on them.

If we are tired or distracted, we could miss something that is really important. We may miss a child’s comment about a friend being mean in school or we may fail to hear the concern in a child’s voice about something a teacher said. We may fail to recognize when a child is frightened or scared. Maybe we don’t hear the real reasons behind a teenager failing a test or getting bad grades in school. Maybe we only hear our own explanations and we react in rage rather than trying to correctly interpret what our child was trying to say.

When we are distracted we don’t hear the reasons behind our spouse’s frustrations. We don’t recognize when a loved one is hurting inside and needs more than just a hug. We don’t realize when someone really needs our help.

We are present, but we are not actively listening. It is important to get rid of our external distractions and pay attention to the people in our lives.

Be aware of your friends and family and what they are saying to you. Don’t just hear the words really pay attention to what they are saying. Look into their eyes and let them know you are actively listening.

You can always escape later with a good book or listen to music with your headphones. In fact, you need to escape and find time to recharge, but when you are with people it is important to pay attention.

Friends and family are an essential part of our lives. Make time for them. Make time for chocolate.