There was a time in my life when I could not speak.
I learned to speak, life happened and I stopped speaking.
In my memory, it was about a year and a half of minimal or no speech. I couldn't tell you actually how long it was. Because I was raised by wolves, no one noticed that I couldn't talk. No one noticed until I went to school. With the help of a kind little girl, and a wonderful teacher, I slowly began to speak again.
And there are still moments when I simply cannot speak. My experience is that I forget how to translate the thoughts into words. The thoughts are there struggling to burst out. But the conduit isn't available.
This experience of silence has taught me more about communication than any training, education or other experience.
In the moments of silence, I want so desperately to connect. And I'm completely unable.
In my daily interactions with people, I try to slow down enough to actually hear what someone has to say. Not just their words. But what they are truly attempting to express. Every action, gesture and facial expression adds meaning to the words.
Listening is not easy. Nor is it for the feint of heart. I strive to not only take in the words, but also hear them as they are expressed, not as they create meaning for me. It's a lot of work. It takes real practice. The pay off is being able to learn about another person.
I think of it as a kindness. Most people blossom within the experience. Yet some find this style of listening to be too invasive or demeaning.
What do you think?