I mentioned in one of my “list” post that one of my favorite phrases from Parenthood was “I hear you. I see you.” If Samuel watched the show he could tell you the season # and the episode # – LOL! The mother and father of all the children of the show had started marital counseling. After his wife said something he started to say something and instead paused to say “I hear you, I see you.” The children were stunned to hear that from their father’s mouth and at the time I too just thought about it in context of the show. And one day, it really hit me the value of applying that phrase to my life. Do I always do it – absolutely not, but it definitely is a nerve spot for me.
Samuel is Mr. Observant in our family. He remembers details when I can’t even remember being there. He loves to build elaborate train tracks, lego creations, etc.. He also loves to watch movies. Often he will say look at this and go on a lengthy conversation. Or when homeschooling, a topic will come up and he will give you details beyond what you could imagine. At the end of a long day or when my mind is rolling the continual to-do list, I can easily be distracted and though I look at him – I don’t really SEE him. I can listen, but I don’t really HEAR him. So now I try to pause when he says look at this or goes on an explanation conversation to “hear him and see him”. The times I remember this, changes his conversation from the noise I would hear in the Charlie Brown Teacher scenes to opening my eyes and heart to Sam. It gives me a chance to enter his world, what a precious gift.
Mary can be Miss Intellectual, Miss Conversational, and in the car often Miss Entertainer. She is also very big on family quality time. So, we have learned to put away our cell phones when eating. It is a way of saying I SEE you, I HEAR you. In the car she loves to put on her playlist and though it isn’t always what I want to hear, it is important to hear. Her songs of the day definitely give me a sign of her feelings for the day because music is such a huge part of her life! In addition, I get to hear her beautiful voice. I rarely talk on the phone if they are with me in the car. It is a chance for me to have a limited interruption experience. Sometimes we talk and sometimes it is just her singing. We recently did a research study at WVU for parent/teen interactions. They gave us a list of topics and asked us to talk about them each for about 5-7 minutes. Our response was “is that all”. The other awesome thing was they were topics we talk about routinely.
It is not always easy or convenient to pause everything, but it is so worth it. As they grow, I realize that if I don’t meet this basic need for them to pause and give 100% attention for the moment, someone else can come along and do that for them. Before I would have kept doing what I was doing and give a half-second look or half-hearted listen, because of my continual non-stop multi-tasking mind. But there are studies after studies out there about how multi-tasking is less effective (see below).
As a wife, I know the frustration when I tell Jim things for the week and he doesn’t register them. Or as an employee, you make a comment and it is as though nothing came out of your mouth. I have become a BIG fan of emails/text because no one can dispute the written word. I at least feel like I am heard or can defend myself that I did tell them.
However, that brings me to another hot topic. PHONES in general – there was an article in the paper of some restaurants considering banning phones. There is not much more annoying than hearing the conversation at the next table as they talk on the phone. I see it in grocery check outs where people don’t even acknowledge the clerk because they are on the phone. My smile may be the only one they see and they also deserve my respect as a fellow-human. Then there are those who insist on talking while walking – across pedestrian cross walks, out in front of vehicles, with the Bluetooth in their ear so the whole store can hear them (and you think at first they are talking to themselves). It has gotten crazy! As a society, the person on the phone always seems more important than the one(s) you are with! I told you in a blog about observing the family in the restaurant and they looked at their phones but never at each other or their children. I can’t also forget that when you hit send, your tone may not be the tone that is interpreted on the other end. Enough of my soapbox – the people I am with deserve to know I HEAR you, I SEE you without competing with the lists in my head, the phone in my hand, the computer screen, the dishes, the laundry, etc…
How much time is wasted in non-productivity by multi-tasking? How much time is wasted in asking someone to repeat what they said because I didn’t really hear them the first time? How much mis-communication happens in families because I didn’t listen/register what my love one told me? How many times have people felt disrespected? How many times have I missed an opportunity to hear/see what is in the hearts of the ones I love? How will my children learn this principle if I don’t show them?
So, I am challenging myself this week to really step it up. To say I HEAR you, I SEE you more often. If I am afraid to forget the thought I placed a tablet on my fridge for when I am home. If I am out, I always have a tablet with me. So I can say, one second – write the thought down and say I HEAR you, I SEE you. If someone calls and it isn’t a good time, I need to say can I call you back. When I call someone I need to ask is now a good time, instead of assuming it is and putting them in the position to make that comment. I want people
- to see a smile I have for them (and not my conversation with the person on the phone).
- to know I respect them – whether they are cashiers, waitress, co-worker, family, etc.. by giving them the time they ask for
- to know that if I am talking to them they have my undivided attention (not get a half-listening ear while I do other things.
- to know/feel they are more important than the things/to-do lists in my life.
- to know that what they say or have to show me is important to me because it is important to them
- to be treated as I want to be treated – I too want to be HEARD and SEEN.
So I prepare to HEAR you and SEE you – it triggers my brain to stop and do what I just said and lets the person know they have my undivided attention. It is definitely something I could also use in a sincere prayer life. Christ I hear what you are saying and I see you in the faces of our children, the beautiful fall leaves, etc… It is also something to consider in my Christian life – do they HEAR and SEE Christ in me?? Now that is a challenge!
Another challenging site for me is http://www.handsfreemama.com/Topics/the-hands-free-revolution/ (Shared by a friend Carletta Peters on Facebook this summer – https://www.facebook.com/TheHandsFreeRevolution)