friendship, giving

Listen Up!

I often talk about active listening skills in professional settings. I often challenge many participants (especially males) in those environments to engage in activities that test their ability to actively listen.

It may not be every male who can’t listen but it is definitely a higher number than women by far. I often think about the why of this…

Listening is the greatest gift you can give to another human. Anyone can give quick advice when somebody has a problem but those who are actively listening can hear your emotion, feel your pain and generally connect with you. Listening takes time. Listening requires one to be patient.

When I think of my own life and frustrations, I think of how my spouse doesn’t listen a lot of time. Doesn’t engage or empathize with anyone who has an issue or struggle. This makes me think back to something my mom taught me at a young age. Never pass judgment on somebody until you have walked a day in their shoes.

In order to be supportive or helpful one has to be willing to set their own feelings to the side, get down on your level, listen and really relate to your issues or struggles. This doesn’t even have to occur face to face!

If you are struggling and you text your life partner, one would hope they could read your words and really listen to your hurt. Unfortunately, I have seen first hand that many close to me are grossly incapable of doing this. 

I think this honestly comes down to their inability to get down on your level. Feel the hurt. It’s a lack of genuineness. Ask yourself, who do your reach out to when you need to talk? Is it your mom? Your best friend? Your sibling? Your spouse? Who?

Then ask yourself who will listen to you when you feel troubled? Is it the same person? Maybe it’s more than one person. The point is you are never going to reach out to the person who lectures you, passes judgment on you, or just brushes you off.

In order to be a better listener you need to give of yourself. You need to put the phone down and listen to the person in front of you. Maybe you need to stop playing a video game to read the words of a loved one.

Today more than ever our words are powerful. In today’s digital world words are a big way of communicating. Sending a note of praise. Sending a text of good will. Even sending an emoji with a smile is positive communication. We are all capable but not everyone does it.
Positive communication opens the door for building trust. One day somebody may need you. They may need you to hear or read their words. They may need you when they are struggling.

If you are not capable of using your active listening skills you may never hear or read those words. It’s unfortunate that many I know struggle in this area. This why I am opting to write this post.

If one person can make a change based on this blog, I feel like I have made an impact. Listen up. Turn on your antennas. Today’s world is hectic and crazy. We are all busy. We are all trapped in a digital world. But we are all capable of listening to words spoken or words written or even emailed / texted if we just slow down, pause and think about what another is saying. 

Remember “tell me more” offers the one person with words hope that somebody is there to listen to them. Offering hope is free.

I know I am making it a point to listen more listen to all around me and I encourage you to do the same. It’s a new year. Why not make it a goal to be a better listener?

Listen up!

challenges

When the Call Comes…

The phone rings and orders are assigned. No choice you are under contract by the military to do the job you have trained for. It doesn’t matter if you have a civilian job. It doesn’t matter if your closing on a house. It doesn’t matter if you have an exam in college. It doesn’t matter if you have pets. It doesn’t matter if you have a newborn.

You have orders to serve. Less than 48 hours to arrive fully packed and ready to go. You need to hit pause on your life and report for duty. Pandemic or not, you have to go. No excuses. This is the life in the fast lane as a soldier called up on orders.

Final destination may be unknown. Total timeframe may be extended. The unit is ready. Now it’s time to see the execution of the practice plans. 

The above is a snapshot of a whirlwind experience with a loved one. The many pieces that need to be handled while the soldier is serving. Mock missions or real missions, they are all the same. Time away. Unknowns. Feeling like a government-issued piece of property.

Some love the life. Some hate the life. Some get bored over time but a contract is a contract and those who commit to serve must honor their commitment even if it means being ripped from normal life in the blink of an eye. Soldier boots are not for the faint at heart.

Deployed is the official word to some. Active orders to others. It’s all time you miss your loved one and wonder when they will return and if they will return safely. Add in a pandemic and stress levels elevate. How does a military unit assemble and socially or physically distance? How do soldiers adapt and modify field training? Is travel safe for soldiers but not the public? Is there a quarantine period upon return?

For me I’ve been fortunate with my experiences over the past 10 years. My loved one however has lost close friends while serving. It’s never easy in my mind to adjust but there is always a worse situation aside from yours.

For now I wait. For now I cover the home front until said return. Luckily we have technology for the times when it’s available.

Keep my soldier in your thoughts. The final stretch is nearing and any extended cycle would not be fun at this point in the military career. Military life extends beyond the solider. It includes the support system. As I said before a mother’s worry never ends. Some days are just harder than others.