You can’t box it, wrap it, or tie a ribbon on it, but the sparkle the gift of listening brings to the eyes of those who receive it, is often unmatched by anything else we could give. Such an easy and inexpensive gift to offer others, but one I admit I can forget to give to those closest to me in the midst of all the “necessary” life stuff that comes up each day.

Last night was a perfect example. I had a kiddo who was experiencing a day like Alexander in the Terrible Horrible, NO Good, Very Bad Day, story book. There were tears, there was drama, and there was a lull, followed by more tears and more drama. The hug I offered helped, but it didn’t bring a sparkle. The drama continued until a very tired and worn out kiddo finally settled into bed for the night.

Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, and this morning I was thinking, “What was I thinking last night!!” I have the tools and skills to de-escalate situations just like the one described above, but instead, I allowed myself to get caught up and distracted by other stuff that seemed necessary to accomplish at the time.

Dr. Karyn Purvis is a well-known child development scientist, who works with kids and teens from hard places. I had the opportunity to watch a live simulcast she did earlier this year. She talks a lot about the power of connecting, but one of the statistics she shared is that it can take 3-5 seconds to resolve something, when we simply stop and connect with our kids. Now you know why I am wondering, “What was I thinking last night!!” 3-5 seconds!??!

As a coach, I know and teach that there are three levels of listening, two of which are most commonly used and we will briefly look at here.

  • Level 1 listening is for the sake of yourself. As you are listening, you are thinking about what the speaker is sharing that might apply to you and how you want to respond.
  • Level 2 listening is for the sake of others. As you are listening, you are paying attention to each word and how they apply to the person sharing. They have your full, undivided attention, and time feels like it ceases to move forward as you are absorbed in what the other person is sharing. Level 2 listening is the listening gift, and sure to bring a sparkle into the eyes of the receiver.

Listening well doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time, is life giving to the receiver, and can take evenings like ours last night and transform them into moments to be cherished and remembered fondly.

As I tell my kids, each day is a brand new day, with a brand new start. With my new day and new start I plan to choose to offer the listening gift!

Brenda is an ICF certified academic life coach, youth advocate coach trainer, adoptive mom, wife and a licensed therapeutic foster parent.