This past week I ran across this phrase while I was reading: "Bending close to listen - without presumption, but with curiosity." I was really struck by that and thought it was worth reflecting on with you this week.
One of the first things that impacted me was the idea of needing to be close to really listen to someone. Certainly, you don't need to actually be close to a person to listen to them, especially if they are yelling(!), but if someone is that animated in their communication, there is usually some kind of barrier to them feeling like they are being heard. It could be a physical barrier, like being in a loud environment, but it also could be an emotional barrier where they are so frustrated at feeling truly unheard it causes them to raise their voice. This is part of the reason I am so intrigued by the idea of bending close, because it implies that the motivation of the listener is to actually listen and really hear what the other person is saying!
It also is a powerful reminder that by bending close we get the opportunity to listen to more than just their words. We get to pay attention to their body language and the emotions they may be projecting. Bending close allows us to listen and sense what may be behind their words, which helps us come to a richer place of true understanding. And let's not forget, that is actually the point of any communication, two-way understanding.
This is also why it is so important to bend close without presumption, and instead approach with curiosity. If I'm honest, sometimes I will bend in close to listen, but with my presumption in place, which means I am still more interested in them hearing my perspective than I am trying to hear them and their perspective. I listen, but only so I can make my next point! However, if I bend in close and let go of my presumptions and embrace true curiosity, I am much more likely to foster a space where everyone feels heard and understood.
As you think about this idea of bending in close to listen, what relationships immediately come to mind? Are there places where others are "yelling," and if so, how could you help to remove barriers in the communication environment to lower the volume? What presumptions might you be holding that need to be released, and how could you move in with greater curiosity? Who have you been listening to, but only so you can make your next point, and what would it look like for you to really embrace curiosity in that relationship so your primary goal is truly listening to them?
Here's to Bending Close to Listen this week!
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