When people talk about the skills they look for in someone else, one of the most sought after is listening; because who doesn’t like to talk about themselves and have another person on the receiving end with full attention?
To vent, share ideas, and have their thoughts acknowledged. When someone is found that directs their focus and is fully present with them, the experience is golden.
Thankfully, listening comes naturally for me. However, I used to get jealous of the more extroverted types who could fill the silence of the air without even having to think about what they were going to say next. Over the years though, I’ve become more comfortable with the reality that listening is what I excel at, even if it isn’t as captivating as having a quick tongue. Surprisingly, and most recently, I’ve noticed some common weaknesses among myself and other natural listeners that may be holding us back.
In our most natural state, we tend to take a backseat to observe and soak in what’s happening around us.
- Asking people what their suggestions, thoughts, and opinions are before stating our own.
- Acknowledging what’s being said rather than saying what’s actually on our mind.
- Spending so much time listening and thinking, that no immediate decisions are made.
While these can be strong traits in particular moments, they’re also pivotal in holding not only myself, but many others back from moving forward.
Sometimes I feel as though I’ve become so comfortable listening that I’ve taken a back seat to my own life. Surrounding myself with extroverts that take the lead, which means I no longer do. It makes me realize, that as listeners we have to lead our own life more and not depend on others.
Someone once said to me “You are your own best friend.” and the more I think about it I realize it’s true. I may look to those extroverted friends, but they aren’t always there and it’s not their obligation to be, it’s my life and I shouldn’t be waiting on others.
By looking to them and falling into my most natural role, it may feel comfortable, but I’ve stunted my own personal growth. It’s absolutely true that you are the sum of the five people you surround yourself with. I love my friends, but I’m recognizing that I’ve taken on some less desirable habits - laziness, lack of punctuality, lack of focus when I work, and a tendency to put things off.
As a listener, I feel like I’ve fallen so far under the influence of friend’s thoughts that I’m not living my own life anymore. Not making the crucial decisions that need to be made and leading the way, telling people what’s on my mind, willing to go solo into a new adventure. I feel like the majority of time I’m answering to others or taking their thoughts so closely to my heart that I don’t trust my own.
I’m happier and more successful than I’ve ever been, having the most amazing experiences. I think I’m in a transition stage though where I’ve learned so much that I need to start trusting my own self and leading the way instead of looking to others. Still able to listen, still able to collaborate, but having the courage to lead, not only myself, but others.
As a natural born listener, I need to stop inconveniencing myself and waiting for others. I have my own high expectations, and I should make sure those are met. We all have our own expectations and should make sure those are met!
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