Ahhhhhhh…..Christmas Eve. You know I think I like Christmas Eve even more than actual Christmas itself. I love the anticipation of Christmas Eve. It is ripe with anticipation. I love the “not happened yet”ness of it all. The universal good cheer in-waiting. I love that the magic is all yet to unfold.
Tomorrow will be muchly about the giving and receiving Christmas presents of course. Super fun and a very important part of proceedings. I’d just like to put a teeny tiny word in about the equally important concept of Christmas Presence as a beautifully wrapped accompaniment to our traditional Christmas Presents.
One of the things that my clients say to me over and over is “you listen to me Louise, really really, REALLY listen to me. You get me on a level I don’t think anyone else does. I can’t believe how quickly you understand exactly what’s going on with me”. Obviously I’d like to say much of this comes down to what an incredibly insightful, inspirational and professional coach I am, and I hope much of it does, but I also think that one of the things that is so incredibly powerful and transformative about the coaching relationship is the quality of my attention. It’s a very different quality of attention than people generally experience in every day interactions. Most of the time…be honest …we listen not with the intent to understand, but with the intent to reply. We don’t want to admit this is the case, but when we are honest with ourselves, this is what is going on almost the entire time in a conversation! We are waiting for the perfect segue for our own anecdote, or our rebuttal of the point that’s being made, or our much funnier story about a dog with three legs, or why Jim should never get to be Marketing Director, or whatever. We are listening for the gap where we get to have our go.
It’s perfectly natural, and I do it myself as much as the next person. However in the coaching room I work hard, very hard, to dial down that natural response. The natural inclination to jump in and reply. Instead…I listen. I mean I really, really, REALLY listen. I listen to what’s being said. How it’s being said. What’s NOT being said (often the most illuminating of all). What’s being emphasized. The energy BEHIND what’s being said. The CONGRUENCE of what’s being said with the emotion that’s being displayed. I listen. I listen not just with my ears. I listen with my whole body. And I listen with my heart.
And I hear a whole lot more. I am truly, completely present with that person. And you know what? That intense presence is utterly transformative. You can see people blossom in front of your eyes when you give them your undivided and intense presence. It is so RARE for us to wholeheartedly listen these days. Not only are we competing with our own instinct to jump in and be already mentally rehearsing what we are going to say, but often our attention is also divided between at least one other screen or device. We listen, at best, with half an ear, in most of our interactions.
It’s not surprising then that we often feel unheard. And that we can feel a little disconnected.
Whilst the shiny presents under the tree are undoubtedly a huge draw card, what could be even more special is to give your loved ones a few moments where you give them your intense and undivided presence.
Not with the intent to reply but the intent to understand.
Listen not just with your ears but with your heart.
And with 100% of your engagement on that person.
No screens. No other focus.
And you know what, I bet that’s the thing you and your niece/daughter/husband/aunt will look back on. Not the latest model GHD’s under the tree, but “do you remember that year, that time after lunch by the boat when I told you all about……that was so special. I felt so connected to you”.
That’s’ what Christmas is really all about.
Give it liberally this festive season.
That, and some really fabulous new shoes.
Happy Christmas Eve gorgeous, may your Christmas be all you wish for and then some,