#147 Talk with an Old Person

Doing this one little thing will enrich your life more than you can imagine. There is great joy in watching someone’s face light…

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#147

Talk with an Old Person

So, perhaps the first thing we need to do is define ‘old person’. For the sake of this post, we’ll say that ‘old’ is 80+. So many of the conversations I have with individuals in this age bracket end up at some point with an expression that they feel invisible to society-at-large. Seemingly, our culture doesn’t openly value the old-old. If you happen to live in a community where there is a significant retirement population, you may have noticed that there are a lot of active, contributing old people these days.

I have a number of clients through the years that are older than 80…  people who drive, live independently, and feel the pain of being dismissed by their family and community. And yet, they are generally people with a lifetime of amazing experience, accumulated knowledge, and sound perspective. There must be something that you are curious about – even if it’s how they made the transition from big band music to rock & roll – or did they?

If your grandparents are still living, when was the last time you just sat down and asked them questions about their own life? Research tells us that recounting memories in our late life increases overall life satisfaction. It turns out that a ‘life review’ can be very helpful in allowing us to see that there were meaningful and contributory moments. Grab a pen and begin asking questions about your ancestral history – if for no other reason than to know it for yourself.

If your grandparents are not living, consider adopting an elderly person – at least for an hour or two. The conversation you have may be the highlight of that individual’s life. As a volunteer in a nursing home, with Hospice, or in the hospital, you’ll have an opportunity to talk with as many elderly people as you have the breath for. If volunteering isn’t your thing or if you are cramped for time, just make the time to engage with an old person the next time you see them in a line, at a restaurant, or shopping for groceries. Find a way to acknowledge their presence and listen carefully for a reason to validate their existence.

Doing this one little thing will enrich your life more than you can imagine. There is great joy in watching someone’s face light from the understanding that you ‘saw’ them. There is great learning to be done when you take time to listen to accumulated wisdom. And, there is great joy in giving of yourself in the most unassuming moments. All this because you made an effort to …

Talk to an old person.

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#304 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Listening carefully means confirming our understanding of the words, the vernacular, and the reference point of the speaker. It’s nice when we are able to successfully infer meaning in a conversation but you know what is said about too many assumptions….

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#304

Listen carefully

Ahhh… If only we all did this!! What does it really mean to ‘listen carefully’? First and foremost – it means NO interrupting! Too many of us have the bad habit of not letting people finish a complete thought before adding our two cents worth. How can we fully interpret the context of what someone is telling us without the entire presentation?

Listening carefully means confirming our understanding of the words, the vernacular, and the reference point of the speaker. It’s nice when we are able to successfully infer meaning in a conversation but you know what is said about too many assumptions….

While it may not be necessary to utilize reflective listening in each and every exchange – the tools that technique teaches eliminates a lot of assumptive problems. When we mirror the statement of another, we are validating that we’ve received the message and most importantly – interpreted it correctly.

“Well I’m not doing that again.” said Diane

“In not doing that again – do you mean today or never – ever?” asks Pete.

It’s important to stop when we listen – to give our attention to the speaker. One of the greatest stories I’ve heard is of a man who pulled over to the side of the road after dating a woman only a few weeks to hear what she was saying about her father. When asked what he was doing, he responded “you’re getting ready to share a big part of your history with me and I’d want to give it my full attention.” That’s LISTENING.

Acknowledge receipt of the message in some fashion, even if it is with a quick “wow”, “that’s great”, or “no kidding”.  Having no reaction at all fails to communicate back that you received what was said. People want to be heard. Even if you feel defensive or become distracted – finish receiving the speaker’s comment and reply to THAT expression before moving on. Verify that they are finished with that thought before anything self-serving is introduced.

Our best friends typically LISTEN – which is – in large part – why they get that title. If you want to be a best friend learn to…

Listen carefully.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.