Lynn and Daniel, her adult son, are sitting side-by-side. After mentioning his tubing trip, she asks, “did you go alone?” He enthusiastically answers, “yes.”
“Were other people there?” she asks. He answers, “No, it was a very quiet day.” Silence. Daniel goes on to describe the water level and pace of the river.
He missed it – Lynn’s real question.
And she still hasn’t asked it.
But, I heard it.
I interject. “Your mom isn’t interested in the river. What she’s asking is if you are safe tubing alone.” She and I make eye contact. She’s smiling, nodding and clearly appreciating someone not only hearing her but giving voice to her true message.
Listening is not about being quiet. Instead, it’s hearing the true message beyond and below what someone is saying. When you are really hearing someone:
- You’ll see facial expressions.
- You’ll hear an emotional tone.
- You’ll notice what happens in space between the words and the response.
There’s a whole world of communication going on just below the surface.