I was sitting in an airport on my way back from Atlanta after several hours of delays due to this year’s wintery FREEZE. I was beginning to get kind of bored from just reading. I started to eavesdrop on some nearby conversations… I realized by many of the varying topics – that REAL-LIFE conversations can be as informatively interesting as surfing the net, reading a book or watching a good documentary.
It just so happens that our team (PERKA) is always working hard at steadily improving our ability to communicate – so that we can “know” more, be more aware, to be able to use our individual, collective and combined awareness through a power of attention and focus on details. We consciously chose to practice this; to not just “be” better for each other, or to “make” things better for clients but to intentionally work to “serve” others selflessly and sincerely more. By having more than one of “us” involved in this process it is revealing that it is easier to be “selfless” – without “EGO” … and work towards our primary team objective of seeking the best, most serving, STRESS FREE solution for the client and us as teammates!
From a practice of working on “listening” skills through “eaves dropping”, … I was able to re-affirm 3 very important factors about collaboration and cooperating through effective communication.
- HEARING CLEARLY: I first “listened” to a young man talking to his wife on the phone about him going to have to quite regrettably miss their all but guaranteed family dinner that Friday evening… you could tell from his tone and choice of words he was disappointed and apologetic. He then had his daughter join in on another phone to be part of the conversation, so he could share his regrets and love to her. The fact that they were on two phones on the other end now, seemed to make it hard for him to hear as you could see his frustration rise in an inability to understand his wife and daughter and to properly assimilate their responses with ease… There were many requests for clarification and you could almost sense the two on other end also losing their thresholds for patience and communicating more. It became evident the effect on being able to physically hear well and understand was so fundamentally important.
- EMPATHIZING WITH PRESENCE: Then I “scrolled” my hearing to focus on a pair of young men maybe in their late 30’s, early 40’s… (For me that’s young ok?). They were trading stories about how much travelling they were each doing. How they were racking up air miles going to various cities in the U.S. and to even towns and villages in other countries! They lamented some at how they spent 2 days traveling, 3 days in office and 2 days at home almost every week of the year! Yet the gist of their conversation was on the fact that they just HAD to see people. And they recognized and valued that process. Whether it be their clients, their suppliers, their teammates or even colleagues from other industries. They said and agreed that they just could not get their FULL message out – without truly HEARING the voices, SEEING the eyes and FEELING the emotions and the body language from their client’s… especially as it related to their true needs, wants, desires and even dreams. The phone, emails, texts, etc. could only bring them so far. Not to mention the sometimes difficulty in hearing properly over the phone or “reading” the right emotion in a written word. The words have power — but they were amplified, solidified, clarified and got more “results” by and with the FACE TO FACE visits! With recent trends towards less of this happening, it was quite refreshing to hear this coming, ever so randomly, from two unrelated individuals in unrelated industries, in an airport no less. And they were YOUNG! (In my eyes!!)
- REPEAT WITH VARIETY AND RESPECT (AND LOVE): After that conversation ended due to a much-awaited boarding call … I got up, boarded and took my seat on the plane. I was returning with my wife, from some R & R time in sunny Florida where I like to free myself from the daily grind to “think” – be “creative” and plan things out. It’s part of my intention to periodically “keep the axe sharp” so to speak. That way when I go back to “chopping wood” – it will be more effective and require less effort.
After we took off and reached our cruising altitude I got to “eavesdrop” on an elderly couple … actually not that elderly as they were maybe about 7 years and 4 months older than I and sounded to be recently retired. They were delightful to listen to. BOTH were genuinely respectful of each other. They did not “talk” over each other… both were patient to wait till the other was fully heard. It was a bit noisy in the cabin of course… so, they tried to speak loud enough to be heard – but not too loud to broadcast their conversation. Lucky for me I was close enough. Notwithstanding – they both took turns to repeat what the other was saying or asking for clarification to be sure they understood and to confirm that the other was heard. They did it gently, with kindness, patience and an obvious total respect and LOVE for each other. I could FEEL that sentiment flowing back and forth. They seemed to be reminiscing too of some of their past and you could hear them even apologize for certain things they may have done or not done at some time or another. Yet, the other would acknowledge it with a chuckle of rekindling a memory and say it was “all good” and part of their journey together. This immediately reminded me of an old African proverb that says people who love each other do not dwell on each other’s mistakes… And so, ideally, in that moment, that said to me that the pinnacle of great communication is to listen and hear another with so much empathy it resembles and behaves like LOVE! (I did also hear, while we were deplaning, someone say to them how they looked so “adorable” together. The woman quite proudly said – “well that’s what 50 years of DATING each other can get you… constant wind beneath my wings”. Hmmm now that was something really interesting to ponder on. Watch for a future blog on that!)
And one never knows what they can “learn” from being “divinely” delayed and waiting around in an airport!
May we be so lucky to always have wind beneath our wings,