These are four BE strategies I try (not always successfully) to employ when I sense that my engagement will bless someone:
- Be forgetful. The chicken might get too done as you let it cook instead of interrupting your friend’s story to check on the oven, but who cares?! The blackened fowl will be only a reminder of the fact that your priorities were in order.
- Be vicarious. Good listening means that we must be willing to take on the emotions (even the painful ones) of the people we care about, to celebrate through things that might make us envious, or to value something that–to us–seems of no value at all (but that doesn’t make it so).
- Be honest. Sometimes, it just is not a good time for you to listen, so be honest about that. Say, “I very much want to hear what you’re saying, and I don’t want to miss anything. The kids are all around me (or whatever), and I know that there will be several more interruptions in the next few minutes. Is it possible for us to talk again in a little while?” And then schedule a specific time, and don’t forget it.
- Be. Don’t just do something, stand there. Be present, mindful, and in the moment that–for reasons you may not understand–is quite important indeed. Don’t try to engage with an app or play a Facebook game while listening. Put the football game on pause, and switch off the radio. Most of us are incapable of such multitasking, and the practice alone says, “I don’t care about what you’re saying,” even though we probably DO care. It’s sort of like–every once in awhile–standing and enjoying the sunset instead of running for your phone and choosing the best Instagram setting for posting. Look up at the heavens, not down at your phone–for magic awaits.