I have been sitting with how long we have been waiting to listen in our familiar, face to face, service. As we have all been waiting – patiently or otherwise – for life to go back to normal, I was reminded of this letter to the LP volunteers. I had to search for it in our archives, but I knew we’d addressed ‘waiting’ as a group of volunteer listeners. I recalled that… we liked it. This post, as well as another post I am working on, aim to discover what’s good about waiting, especially during a time when many of us are a bit tired of it.
Once Again the LP Proves Counter-Cultural: We Like Waiting
Yes, it’s true: We Appreciate the Wait. Waiting, a sensitive valuing of it, turned out to be the unplanned theme of our Volunteer Meeting last week. Marcia let us know that she was updating our training manual and invited volunteers to contribute what they have learned about listening through their dedicated practice of it.
The wisdom that comes through loving what you do, filled the room.
- Listening is natural, we don’t learn how to do it as much as we allow it to happen.
- Listening is disarming; people open up and trust when the open acceptance of true listening is present.
- There doesn’t seem to be a prescription for “how” to listen: in certain settings, it is appropriate to not asking guests about stories they may have shared with you in the past and let the guest share what is on their heart in that moment… in other settings, asking about a guest’s loved ones or life circumstances lets the guest know you have been listening.
- Noticing that most of the time people talk over one another, we can make the conscious choice to wait… to pause and wait before we speak… to wait and listen… in case the other has more to share.
Mel shared that she has found a listening lesson when she’s on the phone. Sometimes there is a delay in the communication technology – you may hear a pause of silence yet the person on at the other may have started to speak. So… if you speak during the silence you could actually be speaking over the other person. It has become part of her practice to not start talking just because there is silence. In other words… she waits.
Waiting ended up being what we turned to for our listening practice. We each took turns sharing about something we were waiting for. Debriefing afterwards as a group we acknowledged that waiting, at least waiting with expectations, can be a very frustrating situation. Yet we also noticed that there is a kind of waiting where there are no expectations. Waiting can be another term for ‘being present with another.’
This kind of waiting is one of the antidotes for fix-it mentality. This kind of waiting is a way to respond with care. Often the idea of ‘care’ gets equated with ‘getting involved.’ Yet waiting, and listening (listening is never the wrong thing to do – say Marcia and Susan), demonstrate a palpable level of care for another. Waiting is a form of love which is, for the LP, natural. Once again, the LP proves countercultural.
We have been waiting, as it were, to see what unfolds with the Listening Post. As we wait… we have been listening. For that, Marcia and I are grateful. And, as you can see when you take a shift at any of our four locations, waiting… proves effective. In our community, Listening is Happening.
on behalf of Marcia and myself, our thanks,