A question can become the bridge that connects us to the lives of others; to those we love and to those we’ve only just met.
I have a friend who, no matter what is going on in her own life, always asks questions of the person she is talking to. Whether the person she is speaking to is four or ninety-four, she will ask about their family, their work, their day to day, often remembering the smallest details from previous conversations.
The beauty is not that she asks the question but that when you answer her she is completely in that moment. She has a beautiful way of making the other person feel like she is totally focused on them; that what you are saying is of utmost importance to her.
It took me awhile to discover what it was that made people in her presence feel as if they were receiving a gift. It is in the listening.
So often I find myself listening with an agenda or with the intent to reply rather than with the intent to understand. I may think I am listening but my hearing is selective, deciding what the person’s meaning is before they have even finished talking.
In the five years of our friendship I have received this gift of being listened to over and over again. But the real gift has been in having this type of listening modelled to me which reminds me always to work at improving selfless listening in my own life.