I Just Want To Be Heard

by Lance Ekum on · 103 comments

y2.d7 | that edit girl

Creative Commons License photo credit: B Rosen

“Seek first to under­stand, then to be under­stood” ~ Stephen Covey

Are you lis­ten­ing to me?”

Do you under­stand what I’m saying?”

Are you really lis­ten­ing to me?”

“Lis­ten a hun­dred times; pon­der a thou­sand times; speak once.” ~ Turk­ish Proverb

How well do you under­stand, before you speak?

A Story

This past week­end, my wife and I orga­nized and ran a bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment, with a total of 64 teams vis­it­ing our gyms over the course of two days.  (well…the hon­est answer is that mostly my wife, Lora, orga­nized it…and every­thing came together in really amaz­ing ways!).   And she came up with the great (well…in whose eyes!?!?) way of field­ing every­thing that came up over the week­end.  She would take on any com­pli­ments and kind words.  I would take care of any and all com­plaints.  (wait…who got the bet­ter deal here???)

Really, every­thing ran smoothly over the week­end (see, that kept HER busy — gra­ciously accept­ing compliments!!)

Of course, with the sheer num­ber of peo­ple that crossed through our doors, the week­end was not inci­dent free.  While every­thing that came up was minor, it also just really high­lighted some­thing very important.

“I just want to be heard and valued”.

One par­tic­u­lar inci­dent involv­ing a coach and a ref­eree involved me “get­ting involved” (…that com­plaint depart­ment duty I took on!!).  I made it a point to take time alone with the coach, and with the ref­eree — to really under­stand their points.  And I also took time to bring every­one together to share.  After our group meet­ing, I made a point of again talk­ing to each party indi­vid­u­ally — to one more time, make it clear that their input was val­ued, and their con­cerns being heard. 

I chose to lis­ten impar­tially to each per­son.  I chose to recon­nect with these same per­sons again, and to lis­ten one more time.

And I chose to reply with my own thoughts only after know­ing that every­one had fully shared their views (and when I was asked for my thoughts). 

I share this, because it demon­strates, very clearly, the impor­tance of lis­ten­ing, or per­haps even more than that — of under­stand­ing (both spo­ken word and non-spoken word).

“The real­ity of the other per­son lies not in what he reveals to you, but what he can­not reveal to you. There­fore, if you would under­stand him, lis­ten not to what he says, but rather to what he does not say.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

While I could cer­tainly not fully under­stand either of these men in the few min­utes we had together, I could seek to under­stand through their words, their actions, their non-verbal signs.  In doing that, and in respect­ing them — I cre­ated a place of open dia­logue.  In that mutual respect, every­one left our “meet­ing”, with an under­stand­ing that they were val­ued — and with a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence even in light of this “issue”.

…by my open and gen­uine lis­ten­ing to them…

Y-O-U

So, think about this?  How are you doing at really lis­ten­ing?  Are you seek­ing to under­stand BEFORE you seek to be understood. 

If we have not taken the time to hon­estly and gen­uinely under­stand, rarely will we come close to “get­ting it right” on what some­one else is think­ing (and to a greater extent — feeling).

Per­haps an even big­ger part of this is how we choose to value the per­sons with whom we come in con­tact with.  By lis­ten­ing, by show­ing we care, by seek­ing to under­stand first — we touch upon the soul of another being.  We touch upon the soul, by valu­ing each person. 

There is no way we can even begin to under­stand the path that has brought some­one to where they are today — just by mak­ing some generalizations. 

There is no way we can know that his mother just passed away, after a long bat­tle with cancer.

There is no way we can know that her child has been sick, and she is worried.

There is no way we can know that he just cel­e­brated his granddaughter’s first birthday.

There is no way we can know that she is just start­ing down the road of an unplanned pregnancy.

There is no way we can know that his car needs major repairs, and he’s been liv­ing pay­check to paycheck.

There is no way we can know that she just was accepted into the col­lege of her choice.

There is no way we can know that he still faces the demons that haunt him from child­hood abuse.

There is no way we can know that she is being re-united with her birth mother after twenty years.

Seek first to understand…

And we may or may not reach these deeper lev­els.  That’s all okay.  In valu­ing another, we touch upon the human con­di­tion, that which con­nects all of us.  This is so much more than race, creed, social stand­ing, etc.  This is about our human­ity — about the value of human life.  Not just mere exis­tence, but the depths of our pur­pose, our life direc­tion, our need for love…

This is also part of the jour­ney for each of us — for me, for you.  I am a work in progress — some­times really “get­ting” this, and other times com­pletely miss­ing these moments to “understand”.

As you con­tinue on YOUR jour­ney, may you con­tinue to cre­ate deeper bonds as you seek also to more fully under­stand those who travel this path with you.

Every­one matters.

You mat­ter.

You are valued. 

…and life is a great adventure…

Note:  If you are hav­ing trou­ble view­ing this, please click here.

Lance writes sto­ries from his heart, aim­ing to inspire and moti­vate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he’s not here, you can find him hang­ing out with his fam­ily, rid­ing a bike, or just gen­er­ally act­ing goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Tree­house newslet­ter and get addi­tional inspi­ra­tion in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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