My office sits about 30 yards off of some very busy train tracks. I’ve yet to count out how many different trains pass by each day, but I’d guess it is 15-20. In the Spring and Fall seasons, I enjoy opening the windows in my office to let the fresh air and sounds of nature drift inside.
But there’s a problem with the open windows and trains. It gets really loud when a train comes chugging by (especially the ones with full loads). When I open my windows while I’m with a client, I listen for the train so that I can close the window before it get’s too loud.
Over the years, I have found that trains can be heard well before they become a disruption. Even if they aren’t blowing a horn, they can be felt in the ground and heard in the air.
All of us have trains that rumble through our lives and relationships. They can be incredibly disruptive if we’re not listening and prepared for them. The powerful aspect of listening is that we hear what we want to hear.
Try it sometime.
Go outside and focus only on hearing the birds singing and chirping. How many different birds can you hear?
It’s pretty amazing that our brains have the ability to tune out background noise and hear what is important. Attentive listening takes practice, and most of us are too well practiced in this skill. Is it difficult for you to hear criticisms, slights, or judgements? Especially in your most important relationships?
The more we hear something, the easier it becomes to hear it (and actively listen for it) again. What we hear has more to do with what we are listening for than it does with what’s happening externally.
What are you listening for in your relationships?