I have come to the conclusion that “Listen Like You Mean It” will be best taken in smaller doses. I’ll practice some of the patience and trust she is talking about. After all, a book is just a different kind of conversation.

Patience and trust.
Listen Like You Mean It book cover on a desert background.

I typically read for about an hour before my mind starts to wander off in need of a break, but while I’m in this book, I started my wandering far earlier, about twenty minutes in. It’s not because the book is boring, far from it. It’s just so full of useful information, that I start worrying that I’ll lose some of it, so I decided to stop at thirty minutes and re-cap in my journal.

I didn’t finish reading the chapter “Stay Present” this morning, but I have mined these gems so far.

“When we name our wandering thoughts for what they are, we can choose what to do with them. Do we need these thoughts interrupting this moment? Are they serving us in conversation, or are they merely a distraction?”

Sometimes we worry that we’ll forget a thought that came up during a conversation. For me, it’s the related story that I want to tell you, that thing that I think will show you that we have something in common and connect us.

“When we can embrace an attitude of trusting what is important will remain with us – that no immediate action is necessary – we can stay calm and simply listen.”

Wouldn’t that be nice? I tend to follow (and voice) every thought that comes into my head. I only recently noticed that. Not everything my brain throws into my path is useful. Maybe I should let some go?

Oh, man, here’s another one. “…we naturally remember meaning better than details, and meaning, for our purposes, exists in empathy – in sensing the feelings, beliefs, and experiences of others. Lucky for us, the brain remembers emotions quite well – better than details.”

In a conversation with a friend, the emotion is what is important. Hearing that my friend is stressed about her husband’s health, or that he is sad over his last date, is more important than what book I read that dealt with those subjects, or the story of how I got through something similar. If I can quiet my mind and stop trying to remember those stories and just be there, I’ll feel more connected to my friends.

A couple other ideas from this chapter that I’d like to remember.

  • Set aside time immediately after a conversation (lunch date or walk with a friend), to journal about what happened, how we felt, etc. I plan on doing this, but then feel awkward not leaving the parking lot of the restaurant. Maybe I can drive away but know that I’ll be stopping at the next McD’s to take a debriefing moment or two with my journal.
  • Not every thought is essential. Let some go. The good ones will come back around!
  • Patience and trust! Give others some space to speak. A quiet pause is ok. No one will die if there is a bit of space between words. I’ve been working on at home recently. I never realized how fearful I am of quiet until now. Even the possibility of being bored is avoided and there is no space between anything I do. I started with doing nothing else while I ate my meals, and journaling for a few minutes directly after. I can do something similar while on a lunch date with friends.

I’m only fifty-five pages into this book, my friends, and I’m thrilled to have picked it up. I want to devour it, but I know I’ll just lose all the good bits that I need. Patience and trust. Quiet. Stay present.

Read my previous post about this book, Listen Like You Mean It: Another New Read.