I’ll admit, I used to be a terrible listener. I couldn’t wait for my date to stop talking so I could interrupt him and talk about myself. Of course, there was never a second date, which is a good thing because I could never remember his name.I’m sure he remembered my mother’s maiden name, my favourite movie and my bra size in grade 8.
Years ago, I signed up for one of those self help retreats, where they lock you in a room for a week with fifty other people.I was so excited because I was going to have the opportunity to test out my new jokes on a captive audience. Literally five minutes into the retreat, a participant started crying over her chair and admitted to years of childhood abuse and I realized…these people aren’t going to like my jokes. For five days, I didn’t say a word, and for the first time in my life, I just sat back and gave everyone a chance to speak and share their stories. It was eye opening. First of all, did you know there are others things to talk about besides facebook and red wine? I learned so much from others like opening a bottle of merlot with nothing but a safety pin and a rubber boot. Everyone in this world wants to feel special and wants to be heard, and I just had to give what I wanted myself- to be listened to.
A friend of mine has a great deal of trouble finding a mate. Every date turns out to be a disaster. The last guy would not even shotgun a beer with her while they waited for a table at a fancy restaurant. When I ask her to tell me more about her date, she can’t! She doesn’t take the time or interest to learn about the person whose sweet potato fries she is stealing. If she stopped, ask him questions and really showed some interest, she just may find out that the guy across from her is the next Brad Pitt with the brains of Einstein, either that or he can’t spell Einstein. I don’t even know if I can!
Since I stopped talking and started listening, I have developed new friendships that inspire and motivate me to be a better person, I met the love of my life ( even though his hearing is a work in progress- he thinks I’m from Saskatchewan when I don’t even drink beer and paint my face green) and I have never felt more at peace in my life.
I’m not perfect, sometimes I still find myself drinking too much red wine interrupting and rambling on about things nobody cares about like quinoa salad, but I’m trying and I’m listening. It is so worth learning about the lives of all the amazing people in this world. My good friend Carla once said, ” Life is a giant school”. I agree, and I can’t wait to see who I learn from tomorrow.