Years ago I was talking to a friend about how if you pay attention you can tell when someone is listening to you …really listening…or if they are just, you know, lost in space and not caring. He told me he could tell when people didn’t care and asked him how he was doing and he would say, “I’m suicidal.” He was a clinical psychology student working on his doctorate and not someone who would ever make fun of someone in need of help. There is usually a good reason why we think people don’t care.
He said people often would just nod and keep doing what they were doing. I’ve tried that response myself over the years and it’s helped me stay in the moment and be a better listener. I hope so anyway. But I am also a trained journalist who learned along the way that being quiet, even though I have a big mouth, can help you learn so much about a person, situation, or an event.
During the past few years it’s become obvious to all of us that we are all having a hard time listening because of what has been happening in our once seemingly stable and safe world. We are all terrified and have pushed ourselves inwards in order to design some kind of personal protective coat of emotional arms. It’s called survival but this way of living has taken a toll on humanity.
When we are suffering it’s not easy to be a good listener but I’m wondering if we couldn’t all just try a bit harder. I am not suggesting you open your ears to the idiots running around talking about things like stolen elections and removing the rights of women and select groups of lovely humans. Let’s start with the people who cash us out at stores, clip our toe nails, cross the street in front of our cars, serve us food when we dare to eat in public, put us on hold when all we want is a REPRESENTATIVE, live across the street, pass us when we are hiking, or irritate us even though it’s not their fault.
This is the start of the Kris Radish Be Kind Program that can lead to better listening and maybe even better caring across the globe. I mean at least we could all try a little harder because it’s been my experience that we are all much more alike than not alike.
So here’s a start and it’s done in all sincerity.
“Happy Day! It’s going to be hot today but I’m wondering how you are feeling? No, really, how are you feeling today?” And now, I listen.