Years ago, I met a man who changed me. He taught me many lessons, which to this day, continue to be important in how I live my life. He came from another land and his ways intrigued me. There was something unusual about him in the way he spoke with others. I observed him closely. He drew me in.
I noticed that whenever he spoke with somebody, it was as if that person was the only person that mattered to him. He attended to their words with care. He attuned himself to the way their body moved as they spoke. There was no urgency in his voice. He spoke when needed. He listened closely and when he responded, it was clear he had truly understood that person. He understood more than their words. He understood their deepest truths. Observing the interaction, you could almost feel the acknowledgment. You could almost see a physical change in the person he was speaking with because they had permission to be heard. I wanted to be close to that. I wanted to feel that.
It was as if he brought with him extra time and space. As if he had created a sphere in which he and another could truly connect. He had a way with his words. He spoke from the heart. He noticed things that others did not. A simple compliment would leave you feeling as though he had been noticing you for years. It was unnerving that someone could make you feel like they knew you better than you knew yourself. He reminded you of things that you had forgotten and things you hadn’t even known. He had a deep respect for other people and it was evident in the way he spoke. I admired this in him and was in awe of how easy it came to him. He later informed me that, in fact, it was not effortless. It had taken much practice and it was something he needed to practice all the time.
All of us want to feel heard. But to feel heard we need to practice listening. We bring urgency into our communication. We hurry our interactions and act as though we are too pressed for time, often talking over each other’s words. We miss out on the depth and breadth of an interaction because our mind is already racing ahead of time thinking about how we can relate something back to ourselves or what we can say next or the other hundred million things we become distracted with when we are engaging in conversations.
I am most grateful to have met this man. To this day, when loving thoughts of him come into my mind, I smile and remind myself to continue practicing this way of being. To slow down. To connect. To create a sphere in which I can be myself and give someone else permission to be themselves too. I want to keep reversing the urgency. I want to create opportunities for genuine connection – be it a brief conversation with a stranger in a café, or the ongoing conversations I have with dearest people in my life. I want to keep practicing the art of listening and attend to someone with care.
Much love to you,