Giving attention

Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention. Jim Rohn

One of the best gifts you can give people is your respect, displayed through active listening. The Chinese philosophy is to listen with the eyes, ears, heart, and undivided attention.

Doctors know the best way to prescribe is first to diagnose, and the best way to diagnose is to listen. When you listen, you should not be preparing to respond, because then you miss out on what is being said. Just listen carefully.

Recently I did a presentation for a cancer group.I began by saying, “If I say to you I know and understand your pain, I will be lying to you. The truth is I don’t. I do not have cancer and do not know how it feels to have cancer. So help me understand how you feel and what your biggest challenges are before I say anything to you.”

The group responded by expressing thoughts like:

“Why me?”

“I feel a loss of control”

“I’m angry”

“I’m afraid”

These are real issues with no quick-fix solutions. I did my best to respond to them, but the fact that I admitted I didn’t know what they were experiencing and requested them to share their feelings with me, made the difference. The participants felt that their feelings were valued, so they responded favorably to my talk and we ended up learning a lot from each other.

Giving people space to express how they feel, and listening attentively to them, is a valuable form of giving. And when you actually listen to people, you can give more appropriate and sensitive advice.

(Excerpts from the book, The Power Of Giving by Azim Jamal & Harvey McKinnon)

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