2015 Focus ~ Listening

A few months ago I was on a date with someone who I quite liked. One of the first things he said to me was that nobody listened much anymore. I took that to heart and it stuck with me even though the relationship didn’t!

My intention for 2015 is to listen. Sounds simple but it’s not that easy, at least for me.

I am beginning first by listening to myself while I am listening to others. I notice that instead of actually listening to the person speaking I am often…

  • judging myself
  • judging the speaker
  • thinking how I should respond
  • trying to make a good impression
  • fixating on a particular outcome
  • feeling defensive
  • making the speaker wrong
  • looking for evidence on how I’m right
  • busy trying to protect myself
  • feeling self-conscious
  • trying to control the conversation so that it will go a certain way
  • trying to fix a perceived problem
  • thinking of advise
  • daydreaming and thinking about myself

I am by habit preoccupied with one or more of these things INSTEAD of simply listening to the speaker with out any other agenda. This is mind blowing!

I am noticing my preoccupations and my urges to interrupt, and I’m stopping myself. Suddenly people are opening up and revealing things to me. More importantly we connect on a deeper levelThey feel good, and I feel good. It’s really amazing. I’m able to understand situations and relationships with more clarity. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out.

Often I find myself not knowing what to say to someone and I feel awkward. Now I realize it’s because I wasn’t really listening. I’ve noticed that when I really listen there is no awkwardness or anxiety about what to say. The conversation unfolds easily, honestly, simply. People like being heard.

So my focus for 2015 is to listen, hopefully more than I talk. Not only will I be listening to others but I hope to employ the skill of listening in my creative practice. As the patchwork unfolds I will listen without agendas of planning, perfecting, judging, or pleasing. Instead I will allow the patchwork to show me what it wants to become.

I’m very excited about this revelation because it’s a New Year’s intention that I may actually be able to keep for a lifetime. Listening is fun!

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41 Responses to 2015 Focus ~ Listening

  1. kris says:

    Wow, just saw the link to this article on fb and frankly it is so me. I am really going to try and do this. My hope is that thinking about this now will make this happen naturally. I do tend to listen to my quilt work and I can see what unfolds naturally if I don’t have a deadline. I think this is much harder to do with people. :)

  2. Bell Moore says:

    I am glad I stopped by your blog, very insightful. I am getting ready for my classes at Quiltcon and so glad I get to take another class with you. Portland “Snowdown” was my first improv class and you opened my eyes. My quilting has taken on a whe new meaning.
    And by the way my whole life people have called me a listener. I have heard it said some people are like babbling brooks and others like short spurts that start and stop. You. Are such an inspiration to me.

  3. Amanda says:

    Thank you for your wise words. I was about to type that I will take them to heart- but they feel so fresh and needed that they just went straight to my heart, no extra step on my part needed…

    and thanks for your blog. It always brings me joy.

  4. Susan K says:

    I think we can all work on our listening skills. I am guilty of many of your bullet points.

  5. Listening without intention is the greatest gift we can give to those we love. Thank you, Sherri, for reminding us that we must keep this in our life’s forefront and apply it every day in as many ways as we can.

    • sherrilynn says:

      So nice to hear from you in the new year Lynda. It is a great gift to give to others and to ourselves I think. Life is so much more interesting when I listen to the stories of other people.

  6. jill bromberg says:

    Thank you for your wise inspiring post!
    Your words so beautifully captured something I have been trying to work on for myself as well. When I remember to truly listen, I suddenly feel centered and connected and whole. It’s so easy to do, yet so easy to forget to do.

  7. Victor says:

    One of the best resolutions ever, Sherri. I know I’m guilty of so many of your bullet points. I’m more mindful of it as I get older, but I still have so far to go. Thanks for such a thoughtful, mindful approach to the lost art of listening.

  8. John Wiercioch says:

    It’s nice to have more of your words to listen to lately.

  9. Rachael Dorr says:

    ………………… (I’m listening) …………. x

  10. Denise Burge (burgedr) says:

    Boy was this helpful to read this morning! Great post, Sherri, and I’m gonna practice that today (and thereafter!).

  11. Anna says:

    What a great beginning to a new year! I’m new to improv quilting and think listening to myself and the process unfolding is going to serve me well this year.

  12. beth lehman says:

    i have been thinking about this so much… thinking about connection and how i thrive when i feel connected (to my kids + family, to those around me, to my body, to my creative spirit) and how others desire the same… to be seen and heard. a friend on instagram recently posted this: http://websta.me/p/889900575507931326_216079 from a book on parening. it stopped me in my tracks.

    all you say here is to true… and like other things… really listening is a skill we can develop. i know it’s a goal for me this year, too. thanks for this post!!

    • sherrilynn says:

      You are welcome Beth. It seems so simple yet really it’s amazing at how much self awareness and presence it takes to implement. I agree the more we practice the better we get.

  13. Tiffany says:

    Very introspective Sherri Lynn (or is it simply Sherri? been meaning to ask you).

    I love how this life lesson also adapts directly to the creative process!

    I have a friend who interrupts me every 20-30 seconds with questions during a story or rant that I will be telling her. It used to make me upset…until I realized I do the same thing to people. Now for the past two years I’ve been really listening to people’s stories and I think how many more pieces of their story I hear without being the Director trying to curtail their story to my own curiosity.

    She still peppers me with questions but now I Am Not a Wall. I don’t let her enthusiasm and the herky jerkiness of the conversation upset me. I just let it flow.

    Happy New Year SLW. I’ll find you this year to sign my book!

    • sherrilynn says:

      It’s such a relief not having to be the director – right on Tina! And then I get to be surprised. Instead of having the story confirm what I already know I discover often new things that I would never have thought of. It makes life and other people so much more interesting.

      And you may call me Sherri or Sherri Lynn as you please! Happy NY!

  14. shannon says:

    wow. that was so honest. thank you. i sometimes do what christine says…thinking while person is talking and then forget what i’m going to say. but, yeah, thinking of a response or reflecting how i can feel/relate to what they’re talking about.

    thank you sherri! :)

  15. Mina says:

    I am going to try this with people and my patchwork

  16. Your post made me smile Sherri.

    That is indeed a “life changing” revelation and that fact that you have put yourself out there in such an honest, open way – very refreshing.

    Thank you. :)

  17. Susan says:

    You have really made me think…long and hard. I am going to follow your example this year, greetings from Cape Town, Susan x

  18. Kelly says:

    Great post! I learned a lot!!

  19. madge says:

    Quilts without deadlines are wonderous because they give me time to wait until they speak to me. Sometimes it takes years, but almost always worth the wait.

    • sherrilynn says:

      That is so true Madge. Sometimes I have to wait for information from other parts of my life or other patchwork projects before I can move forward with the next step in a quilt. Sometimes I need to listen, to read before I have the knowledge I need to speak, write and create. Thanks!

  20. christine says:

    Thought provoking! Often, I form a response, comment and wait, not interrupting. And then forget what I wanted to say. Was it not important?

    • sherrilynn says:

      Me too Christine! I’m often more focused on forming an engaging response than I am with listening to what the person is telling me. Maybe our formed responses are not as important as listening. Not sure. Crazy interesting to think about!

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