Mary de Young is a talented social worker and coach as well as a delightful human being. I absolutely loved being on her Engaging Gray podcast recently. We talked about so many things including grounding ourselves and focusing on the who and the how instead of the what at work. Are you showing up how you’d like to in your life?
Caren and my latest article is up at Bookology Magazine, featuring The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson. We explore crossing borders and deep listening as peacemaking. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
My father used to remind me, “You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion.”
Good advice. A more profound quote is a Quaker saying: “An enemy is a person whose story we have not heard.” For me, crossing borders means to learn to listen carefully, deeply, and compassionately to someone’s story without thinking about what I may want to say in response. If we can look into each other’s eyes and listen to each other’s stories, something breaks open in our hearts. Physically, in our bodies, we can feel barriers breaking down and empathy and understanding rise up.
How can we help our children (and ourselves) become border crossers? Start with practicing deep listening. Educator and writer Diana Raab had a list of tips in her article published in Psychology Today: “Deep Listening in Personal Relationships.”
Pay attention to the feelings associated with the words.
Notice the speaker’s tone and inflection.
Repeat in your own words what someone has told you.
Acknowledge that you’re listening by nodding or saying “Uh-huh.”
Occasionally summarize others’ comments when given the chance.
“By listening carefully when someone speaks, we’re telling them that we care about what they’re saying. It’s also important to remember that listening is contagious. When we listen to others, then chances are they will be more inclined to listen to us.” writes Raab with more good advice.
No matter how young or old, if we practice deep, compassionate listening, we’ll find the courage to cross borders into one another’s world. As in the picture book, The Other Side, we might even watch those ol’ fences come tumbling down.