Lessons from Lockdown – Active listening


I will now confess – I’m an interrupter….one of those annoying people who invariably gets over excited and butts in to your sentence half way through because something you’ve said has resonated with me and I can’t wait to share my thoughts. 

I know it’s annoying.  I try VERY hard not to do it, but so often I fail.

Sometimes this is because I worry I’ll forget what I was going to say (happens a lot with advancing age), but mainly it’s because I’m juggling other things and don’t have the time to stop and really listen to what you’re saying.

Now, that’s a poor excuse and I know it.  We actually can all make the time to truly listen to someone but when you’re juggling work, washing, dog walking, child minding, school runs, shopping….etc, life get’s in the way.

So what happens is we hear but we don’t listen!

Who has been appreciating the sounds of wildlife whilst there’s an absence of cars, lorries and planes around?  We have noticed a nightly owl twit-twooing away that we’ve never heard before in the 13 years we’ve lived here.  We don’t think he’s just moved in, and whilst we aren’t completely rural, Paddock Wood isn’t a hub-bub of nightly activity after dark (usually!).

Yet there he is every night now, so we can only assume that the suspension of local building work, a lack of cars on the roads and a generally quieter feel to the days has meant we can actually hear him for a change.

Easter weekend was glorious with the chance to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.  The neighbours’ children were busy excitedly hunting for Easter eggs in their gardens, lawn mowers were filling the air with the aroma of fresh cut grass and the garden was filled with finches, robins and the odd pigeon looking for nesting sites and nibbles.

Not only could we really hear what has been going on around us, but we also have the time to stop, listen and appreciate it.

Our Virtual Quiz night on Saturday with friends was a great hit.  Initially there was A LOT of people talking over one another.  In the main this was because we were all so excited to see other human beings and to check everyone is safe and well, but it was also because everyone wanted to share news and chat and via the virtual platform, that doesn’t work.  What happened though was that very quickly people fell into a semblance of order and took turns, listening to each other and not butting in.

Jaffa, the Office Junior has been enjoying daily long woodland walks (usually they’re reserved for weekends) and we’re now in the full flush of the bluebell carpet in our local area – these have been poking through the undergrowth in the last 3 weeks, and today, voila, there’s a carpet of blue. But this year we’ve really noticed how they’ve been coming along and appreciated their simple beauty whilst we have the opportunity to enjoy them.  Our daily dog walk is something to savour and value in these strange times.

What I’ve noticed on our daily doggy jaunts is that we are slowing down with our conversations.  I know I’m interrupting less (still guilty some of the time), but because there isn’t other stuff “butting in” to the daily routine, we can take time to have more in-depth and  detailed conversations.

Don’t get me wrong, some of them really aren’t very deep at all (obviously a lot has centred around our business future and the impact of the dreaded C-19), but one has included an ongoing debate about whether Keith should keep his new beard post lockdown!

What I have noticed though is whether it is big stuff, or more random minor discussions, we have been listening, taking time to consider all points and then formulating responses, rather than the knee-jerk opinion that is the result of the jumble of thoughts that so often fill our heads when we’re busy and preoccupied.

So, this week’s Lessons from Lockdown is to remember what it is like to ACTIVELY listen – whether that is to family, friends, colleagues or nature, let’s come out of this enforced restriction with the ability to not only hear what is being said, but slow down and to provide considered, thoughtful and insightful responses to the conversations we have.

If you would like to read our other Lessons from Lockdown, visit our blog page https://athelbraeblog.wordpress.com/ and if you would like to vote on Keith keeping his beard or not, visit our Twitter page and get voting @AthelbraeLtd

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