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(Photo Contributed By Marlena Groomer)

1/7/15

“You have two ears and two eyes and only one mouth.  (It’s) Because you will learn twice as much (more compared to) what you will ever have to say.”

One of my more common responses when interrupted while trying to get a point across, generally to the annoyance of the intended, is “listen with your ears, not your mouth”!  It’s actually advice I have to remind myself to follow more frequently than I’d like.  Maybe because I’m too passionate and stubborn about my own convictions and opinions, or I forget that I need to invest more effort into the lost art of actually listening.  It’s probably a combination of both which can lead to the isolation of my own individual thoughts with the temporary (hopefully) exclusion of the validity of others’ conceptions.

I’ve formed the opinion that similar approaches lead to stalemates in our government by the unwavering stances taken by our leaders due to party loyalties rather than what’s best for our country and it’s citizens.  Just predetermined grand designs without room for intellectual alteration for the logical benefit of our citizens and probably the world, but maybe best to leave the topic of national and world leadership for another platform.

Here’s what I have to remind myself which may be of use to you.  Remember meaningful discussions invite dialogue with others which has to be open and bilateral.  What’s being shared with me has to be heard beyond what I want to hear, what I expect to hear, and the way I want to hear it.  I need to set aside the temptation to engage in “oratorical gladiator matches” of intellects where stubborn, unyielding, viewpoints are battled to the death! It’s just my nature that if I’m not intrigued or swayed enough within the first 5-10 minutes to at least reconsider my own point-of-view, then it’s unlikely that any repetition or increase in volume in further attempts have any impact.  After that, I pretty much terminate cerebral activity and feign any further interest out of courtesy.  To be fair, I’ve accepted that such guidelines apply to my frequent diatribes.  I mean open-mindedness, respectful attention, and courteous restraint has its limits, you know?

I also need to set aside my opinion and my perception of the messenger so that I can absorb the message.  It’s illogical but the more familiar I am with that messenger, the greater I tend to ignore the significant points of what is shared because of the persons’ title, delivery, history, and/or background.  I find myself focusing on the intricacies of the relationship and perceived flaws in that person to ignore the most important components of their most generous contribution:  WHAT THEY HAVE LEARNED, WHAT THEY NOW KNOW, AND HOW IT MAY BENEFIT ME!

I admit (probably without much opposition) that I’m opinionated with little regret other than the benefit of the information included in my opinions can be ignored as a result of its elocution.  I understand since I’ve never been a good one when it comes to an exchange of information with someone as passionate, emphatic, and/or slightly arrogant about their own beliefs and conviction as mine – how’s that for self-awareness?

Here’s one way I’ve tried to get around the importance of my own self-absorption.  “Indirect” interpersonal communications (texts, emails, phone conversations) with people in an an attempt to get divergent points across usually evolves into an impersonal dialogue that often erodes the attention and civility of the participants, or at least in my case.  My preference is to engage in such discussions face-to-face so that I can see if someone is talking to me, with me, through me, or around me.  For my part, I have to exercise self-restraint when faced with the two latter possibilities because there just might be something meaningful from the exchange – it just takes more discipline and patience but again, 10-15 minutes or I’m done!

Here’s the bottom line.  There are 1,440 minutes in each day and we spend an abundance of time contemplating and pondering issues based on only what we know.  We are not islands and should not be so immersed in our own intellect to ignore the external sources of information coming from those with more experience, resiliency, outlooks, or perspectives.  A common phrase used is “you don’t know me”, or “you don’t know what I’m going through”!  It’s probably true but more wrong than what we want to accept – it just sounds good for dramatic effect.  The sequence, timing, participants, personalities, etc., may be different but the physical, emotional, and psychological challenges are too difficult to differentiate.  We’ve all felt something similar and all take away something that maybe others can benefit from, so don’t be reluctant to hear or share it.  Most important, we may not have to finally accept what is provided to us but out of the 1,440 minutes, at least give it some genuine thought, see what applies, and you’ll likely find something to your advantage.

It’s somewhat funny but it’s like school; we think that little of what we learn will be useful in OUR REAL WORLD until that moment we discover it’s usefulness if the precise circumstances and events call for it’s application.  That’s what our daily life is; there has to be something in those 1,440 minutes outside of our own singular and personal existence that we can learn from if we expand our senses to at least entertain the external resources around us.  Just need to be open-minded enough to give them some consideration, even if it takes awhile to separate the message from the messenger such as…ME!  No offense taken though.  Just trying to help since I’ve got the time and desire so at a minimum, think about it.

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