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The most basic and powerful way to connect with another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.
-Rachel Naomi Remen

Listening deeply opens up whole new worlds.

Listening deeply opens up new worlds.

It’s been said that life is a journey.  We spend the first part of our years on the planet moving toward an elusive “something” and the latter part facing it down. One thing I’ve learned is that what we have to face is often ourselves.

I’ve met many adult adoptees—fellow travelers on the mysterious, meandering quest toward understanding adoption. We seem to be revising our thoughts about the “adoptee” status. We strive toward relaxing into acceptance and moving beyond old, tired hangups about being adopted. As one blogger in the online adoption community observed, “You wake up and you’re still adopted.”

One of my discoveries is that by putting my own adoption issues to rest, as in “Enough, already…go back into your cave,” I find the energy to focus outward. This new attitude includes refreshing my listening style.  Instead of preparing a response to whatever is being said during a conversation, I’m work on paying full attention to the speaker.

Whether or not you’re dealing with adoption issues, here are ten
Basic principles of more effective listening:

1 Stop talking.
2. Concentrate on the message being communicated.
3. Help the speaker feel free to speak. Use eye contact.
4. Remove distractions such as gazing out a window or checking for text messages.
5. Empathize. Try to understand the speaker’s point of view.
6. Be patient – a pause does not necessarily meant the speaker has finished.
7. Avoid prejudice. If you disagree, use the transition “Yes, and…” rather than “NO!”
8. Listen to the speaker’s tone and volume.
9. Listen for ideas, not just words.
10 Watch for non-verbal communication.

Silence can be golden. Epictetus summed it up: If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear. 

Join Elaine every other Monday for reflections on Adoption and Life.

Join Elaine every other Monday for reflections on Adoption and Life.