Each year, instead of resolutions, I have started to have overarching themes for myself. These are concepts that I want to develop throughout the year to become a better me. The past year was dedicated to faith and trusting God. My theme for 2017 is to listen.
There are thousands of books written about speaking, talking, oration, and communication skills. YouTube is flooded with pieces on how to become a better public speaker, how to persuade, how to get your point across, and everything EXCEPT how to listen. When you look at current media, panels are filled with pundits that are just waiting to talk the loudest and longest. Everybody is speaking but nobody is actually listening.
I really had to reflect on myself this year. I am so quick to gather all of the information I can from my experiences and thoughts that I fail to truly process what is being said. I hated not having a chance to get my point across that I often forget that the purpose of communication or a conversation is the exchange of information. I can’t exchange information if I am not willing to take something in.
It really surprised me how much we do not listen to each other. I want to build the positive skills that will help me get more out of my daily interactions. My grandmother always told me, “You have two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionally. Listen twice a much as you talk.” I still haven’t gotten that down. I even have a blog that I use because I feel that my thoughts are not heard enough… well………………………..that’s awkward.
But seriously, I want to get to the point where I reduce misunderstandings and can make others feel like that matter more. I want to interact with the person on a deeper level because their opinion and thoughts matter. This will help me in the long run, if not in my occupational life, at least future Mrs. Spann will appreciate it.
I constantly reflect on bad conversations I’ve had. I’ve dealt with it in relationships all the time. I know the relationship is going sour when I have spent hours on the phone with them and I never once was asked a question besides “how was your day” or “What you do today”. The only exception is when I am prepared for a rant session. If i can sense you scrolling down your timeline, while on the phone, it’s time for me to find a new friend.
That’s not to say I am without fault. I can get on my soapbox and talk for hours (preparing for all future filibusters) but, I really am trying to ask more questions. I try to get feedback and thoughts from others. Most importantly, I am trying to get out of everything being about me and be about the other person.
This year is going to make a changing point in my life. I am going to be turning 30 in July. I am ready to leave behind the youthful ignorance of my youth while holding on to my dreams and optimism. I’ve been reading my bible and I constantly came across how being quick to speak is harmful. I kept seeing that talking too much is a problem. I want to improve the man I am to being more productive. I cannot learn how to be a better man if I am always declaring something to everyone else. I must slow down and look for something new.
I’ve also learned the being a listener is an active process. It takes energy to listen properly. You have to pay attention to what is being said and what is not being said. Body language and a unique understanding of who the person is that you are interacting with is vital. Even where you are and the environment is connected to understanding a message and listening well.
Beyond interpersonal, I have been thinking about how to expand this further. I want to be able to listen to myself. How do I feel about certain things that happen in my life? What is my body telling me about X activity or Y situation? How do I feel about John or Jill? Do I want X in my life? Listening to others is great, but listening to myself is essential for growth.
Finally, I want to be able to listen to God more readily. What things has He been telling me that I’ve been ignoring? What does He want from me? Where is He guiding me? What lessons should I have learned in the past? How can I be a better son to Him? How can I take myself out of the central questions to fulfill His purpose? This past year has been filled with growth but I want even more out of 2017. To become an even better man this year, I must learn to listen.
What are your New Years Themes? Do you have resolutions? What do you want to leave behind in 2016? What have been the shining moments? What blessings do you want to ask for in 2017?
To everyone reading, have a safe, happy, and healthy New Years Eve!!! Catch you all in 2017!