You know the old philosophical question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?“ Now that’s a tough one to answer, but here’s one that has a simple and powerful answer.
When you express a hope, a fresh idea, or a potential strategy… and no one hears it, does it really exist?
How many times a week do you have thoughts like, “I would love to (fill in the blank)” or “I’ve got a great idea” or “next week I’m going to join the (fill in the blank)” and then have those thoughts vanish into the ozone like they never existed?
What happens when you speak those same thoughts to a generous listener; someone who truly hears you and takes what you are saying seriously? Those thoughts have a chance of coming to life, spurring action, and gathering momentum.
A generous listener is someone who gives you full attention; someone who is curious, suspends judgment, and has a desire to understand both the meaning and the motivation of what you are sharing.
A generous listener can:
Reflect…provide a mirror so that you can hear yourself clearly.
Honor…acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, and ideas without imposing a personal agenda.
Clarify… support you in articulating exactly what you mean.
Draw out… ask additional, appropriate questions that mine the richness of your talent.
Encourage… let you know that your thoughts, feelings, and ideas are worth exploring.
Make real… invite you to turn abstract thoughts into concrete assets.
Challenge…hear your innermost commitments and encourage you to honor them in action.
So let’s return to the original question: who is your generous listener?
If no one comes to mind, seek out people and ask them to be generous listeners for you. Give them the list above of what generous listeners can do and ask them if they would be willing to suspend their own agenda and interests for a few minutes to be fully present for you. You’ll be amazed at what a refreshing tonic just a brief amount of generous listening will be for your spirit.
With thousands of people, we’ve seen not only their hopes soar but also their results accelerate. Return the favor by being a generous listener for others, and you’ll more than double the benefits. As generous listeners report, they gain insights for themselves as they listen deeply to others.