This will sound very odd, but when I was a little girl, I loved old men.
Two factors influenced this. I grew up in a family pub in the outskirts of a large Irish town and retired men would frequent the lounge bar to meet and chat over slowly sipped pints and smoke their cigarettes. Secondly, I was the youngest in my family and one of the youngest on the street so was often last in games and last to catch up. But in the quiet atmosphere of the lounge, these men always had time to tell stories and to listen, often over a game of cards, or things we made from beer mats or empty cigarette packets.
A strange childhood, you might think…but not so much if you think of what happened in these magical moments.
I was listened to, I was heard, I had a voice. If you think back to your own childhood, who are the people you remember fondly? Who really stands out for you? And why? I won’t be surprised if they were people who listened to you.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to stay a memory. We can become that listener to those around us. We can listen to the next generation. In my work, people automatically assume I help people to speak. A lot of what I do is inspire people to listen. That’s half of Effective Communication. It’s also half of Time to Think, where people do extraordinary generative thinking when they are listened to with uninterrupted attention. “What is essential is invisible to the eye” – Antione de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince