Listening to others is a skill that enhances relationships, and I feel it adds to the creation of a more empathetic society.
I’m a big fan of finding life lessons – teachable moments, if you will – in ordinary settings. A simple flower teaches us so much about nature – how rain and sun must both be present in order for growth to take place. Watching a dog laze about in a sun-puddle reminds us that there is no artifice with animals, that they embody unconditional love and are easily pleased with a spot of sun and a stick to chew on.
You make your way to the reception desk and a friendly innkeeper says, “Welcome Traveler. Do you require a blanket or a sword?”
It’s not the question you were expecting, and your face betrays your confusion. Fortunately, the innkeeper is extremely perceptive and broadens their question. “Which do you need most right now, Friend? Do you need a blanket – the comfort of a soft chair, a hot meal, and a listening ear, so that you can vent your troubles, or do you require a sword – the solution to a problem?”
On the surface, it’s a simple question, and yet, these two choices – blanket or sword – embody the most important ways we communicate as caregivers.
Communication is one of the critical areas in our lives that can be a saving grace or a bullet train to disaster. Regardless of which end of the conversation you were on, I’m willing to guess we’ve all had at least one that blew up and that we’ve regretted later. What a difference it would have made if we had only communicated with our eyes and ears wide open!