Listening is an undervalued art. These days most people would rather talk than listen.
Research shows that we speak at a rate of about 125 words per minute, yet we have the capacity to listen to approximately 400 words per minute. So what are we doing with that extra space in our minds when someone else is talking? Are we really listening?
I know my mom is listening. If I call her when she’s watching television, she turns it off and gives me her undivided attention. She listens with genuine interest and if I’m excited about something, she’ll say: “Tell me about it.”
After my dad passed away in 1996, I made a commitment to call her every night. We’ve continued our nightly phone ritual for the past fifteen years. Sometimes our calls are just a quick exchange of news from our days. But other times I’ll tell her a long story about someone I met or some accomplishment I’m proud of. She’s with me the whole way and always has been.
My mom lets me do most of the talking and doesn’t interrupt unless she needs clarification. She’s always been a very curious person and more interested in finding out about other people than talking about herself.
That may explain why she has such a huge circle of friends and people are drawn to her. She graciously gives people her full attention when she’s with them. She doesn’t let her eyes wander the way so many people do when you’re talking to them. She doesn’t interrupt or change the subject by bringing the conversation back to herself either.
My mom has inspired me in so many ways but the one I’m most grateful for is the gift of listening she has given me all my life.