Listen From a Place of Curiosity and Presence

Good day y’all. I hope that you have had a wonderful weekend. I have had a very full past several days completing many projects here in the outdoors of Thompsonville. From pouring concrete, to setting bricks for my cowboy fire pit, landscaping, and some light electrical, it has been a fulfilling week or so. With so much going on outside of my regular routine, I have not taken the time to journal or write. In fact, my racing thoughts and noisy brain have been pretty quiet.

And that has felt wonderful, but also left me at a loss of what I wanted to write on.

As I was catching up on my emails from the weekend, I read through one that I receive every day that includes quotes. Now, I am not a bumper sticker person and I truly reject the canned sayings and phrases that are so common on social media in an effort to help me feel good about myself. UGH. This particular morning however, this quote struck me, inspired me, to share my thoughts with you.

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” Alice Walker.

As typical, I have to look deeper, read between the lines, and look for a correlation between life and work.

Here is where I am.

I grew up in the “do as I say, not as I do” era of parenting and coaching. My early experience with work was that your ability to speak, or have any sort of viable comment, was in direct relation to your position with the organization. Both of the above approaches, while at times appropriate, are archaic as a rule of thumb in both our personal and professional lives. And yet sadly, they still exist in both.

If you as a person, as a formal or informal leader, take the approach that your voice is the only voice that should be heard, you are limiting the growth of those around you. It does not take any skill as a parent or the leader of a team to silence everyone around you in favor of your own ideas, plans, and creativity. In fact, this takes very little effort, is unproductive, and limiting in so many ways. I can speak from experience as a parent and as a leader that this does not work long term.

But this goes even deeper.

When we silence others, our kids, our co-workers, the person bagging our groceries, we are stunting our own growth. There is so much to learn from taking the time to listen to others. We do not have to agree to one hundred percent of all that is said. In fact, I have been down right bored, listing to the young man at the grocery store check out, going into detail about a video game he is playing when all I asked was how he was doing. I have no interest in video games and was lost throughout the entire conversation. I did not learn anything, or did I?

I can remember wanting to just check out and go home. We have all been there. I just need to move on with my day. But this young man had a response to my question and since listening and sitting still are daily struggles for everyone, being able to stand and be engaged in the conversation was a lesson in patience and being present. I do not remember anything about the game that was being talked about. I remember the smile on this persons face and genuine sense of joy they had in sharing with me. I remember the very satisfying feeling that I had, having taken the time to just be present and listen. I have a communication model that I created called T-E-LL-A-R. The “LL” stands for “listen to learn”. An important element that I work to improve each day.

The amazing photo of the owl that Dawn took while we were kayaking in South Carolina’s Pee Dee river, is so symbolic of just sitting and listening. Of just being present and learning from our surroundings.

When we listen from a place of already knowing the answer, there is no growth to be gained, for others, or for ourselves.

There is no creativity to be discovered. There are no solutions that will include the complete buy in of your family or team. This week, take just one moment that you would normally not take. Ask a question and (here’s the hard part) honestly encourage and wait for the response. This is an important part of communication and relationships of all kinds that is often overlooked. The feeling that you get when you provide space for others to speak and be heard is so rewarding for them, and for ourselves.

Who can you help “un-silence” this week?

May you be happy, healthy, and take the time to listen to learn.

4 thoughts on “Listen From a Place of Curiosity and Presence

  1. Sharing is caring. One don’t need to go to school to learn something new everyday, there is a vast pool of knowledge and experience out there.


    1. Agreed, collectively, there is a wealth of knowledge to be shared and gained if just take the time to listen for a place of learning.


  2. Tommy, what a great post about LISTENING to others and being PRESENT in the moment. I smiled, an image of you bewildered at the check out while a young man passionately tells you about the game he’s playing. You probably made his day asking how his was going – but more importantly – staying to hear the answer! I work as a contractor for an Agency and often ‘fill in’ for the Reception desk at MANY different companies if their receptionist is ill/on holiday/whatever so I greet sometimes hundreds of people, smiling politely and asking “how are you?” after welcoming staff or guests to the office. 90% of the time, NO ONE LISTENS. Staff and guests will wave absentmindedly, no one asks how I am, no one responds when I ask how THEY are. Some responses are non-sensical and I can tell that person is on “auto” mode and not really registering. I loved your gentle reminder to LISTEN to each other and to NOT SILENCE each other, too. It’s vital to not only take time to really hear what someone is saying, but to not ‘shush’ someone who wants to speak. Love this! Hope you keep writing, you’re amazing at it xx

    Liked by 1 person

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