This week was pretty typical for me as I was reminded by two conversations I had. Both of them were similar, in that the talks were people I had not seen in quite a while and also, the conversations were almost exclusively about them. In one of the conversations, it was actually a long time since we had last seen each other and someone who there was some degree of friendship. I took the initiative by asking how they were doing. That was like turning on the faucet to start a bath. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
It was not that what they had to say wasn’t important, but it was non-stop and all about them. After about 5-10 minutes, they had to go. Did they know anything about what was going on in my life–ZERO—NOTHING!
My point for you parents is that I believe you love your children deeply. You want them to be successful and you want them to have great character. Well, here is one thing you can do for your kids that will truly help them reach those goals—-have them get in the habit of finding out about others before they talk about themselves. By doing this, it will:
- teach them about humility (thinking of others before themselves)
- teach them how dangerous pride is (it is a terrible character quality to see in someone else that all they seem concerned about is themselves (and I find when I tend to notice pride in others the most, it’s because I’m sensitive with a conviction that I have been acting prideful lately)
- it will help them develop strong listening skills (a great thing to have)
- it will give them favor with others because people love to feel important or cared for and being listened to helps them feel that way
- by being a good listener and finding out about others will lead to your children standing out among others because most people love to talk about themselves, being a listener, instead of a talker is unique
Conversations with people isn’t a competition on who can listen better, or who can talk less. It should be a back and forth kind of thing. Two people interested in each other and wanting to both better understand the other person and at the same time being transparent with talking about yourself. I so appreciate friendships that are characterized by this mutual kind of back and forth discussions.
Unfortunately, I don’t find that most conversations are like that. So, train your children early on to be good listeners. They will then have lots of opportunities to practice and develop those skills.