watching, reading, and writing stories

The Importance of Listening

Close-Up, Communication, Deaf, Ear, Female, Girl

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I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, I was the ‘shy’ kid. I didn’t talk much, at least to strangers and I was often quiet. It seemed like talking was just too hard, probably because I wasn’t sure what others would think about what I said, or I just didn’t feel like I had anything to contribute to the conversation. Especially in a big group, this can still be the case. So I thought it was a problem, if only I could talk freely like other kids… or adults.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve overcome some of those irrational fears that I had as a kid. I can talk in a group, or even on stage if I need to. But I still have a tendency to listen instead of speak. And I’m glad I do. I’ve heard so many things about the importance of listening… or “active listening.” It’s a real skill and not everyone has it naturally. I think because of my ‘shy’ personality, this was easier for me to learn, and it is very beneficial, especially in close relationships.

I’ve gone through a lot of trainings for Disaster Relief, or working with impoverished people, and even for leadership, and all of them have emphasized the importance of listening. Listening shows care for another person. It includes eye contact, nodding and can even include talking, such as repeating what the other person says to make sure you understand, or asking follow-up questions. But the focus is on what the other person wants to talk about, or in some cases needs to talk about.

Now being quiet and listening isn’t something I feel ashamed of, but something I’m thankful for. It’s a blessing to be a true friend for someone else and show care through listening. And though there are times I need to talk too, I’m glad I’ve learned how to listen.

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A week without the Internet

No Internet

So, not that many of you would notice, because I fairly regularly go a week or more without posting, but I have had no working internet at my home for the past week and a half. Today it was finally fixed, and I think it’s an appropriate topic for a blog post.

I have a feeling that most people who lose their internet feel like they lose their life. How can you manage without e-mail, Facebook, Youtube, and Google to answer all your questions? And in one sense I have to agree, it’s a hard thing to get used to. I’ve been on trips where I wasn’t able to use my phone, or the internet but I always had something to do. This time, I was at home, and trying to go through my daily routine without the internet to help me.

I found that I could go to a local wifi hotspot to check e-mails, and luckily I have 3G on my phone so I can still use Google Maps when driving. But a large part of my life was changed. I couldn’t watch Netflix, or Youtube, I couldn’t print papers or update my Facebook status. Life changed… but actually I’m quite thankful for it.

During this time of year, I don’t have a lot going on, so I wasn’t stressed. Instead, not being online forced me to find other ways to fill my time. I can hardly believe how much reading I got done in this past week, just because I couldn’t watch silly videos on Youtube. I even started working on my second novel today. I hadn’t done that in months. Not having the internet, freed me to do other things.

Also during the Holiday weekend when I got to spend time with my family, we had to do so without the internet. We didn’t sit on our phones, each engaged in our devices and ignoring each other. Instead we talked, really talked. And let me tell you, that’s a lot more meaningful than a two minute video of a cat playing with a laser pointer.

In fact, I enjoyed this time enough, that I think I will make it a weekly habit, and not use the internet for one day out of the week. I can take the time to keep reading one of the many books I’ve started, or catch up with an old friend. And I would encourage you to give it a try too.

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