What a 5-Year-Old Can Teach Us About Listening

150 150 Neen James

We’re told from a very young age to pay attention. From our parents. Teachers. Then bosses and gurus.  But I don’t think it means what we think it means. At least I don’t after a very smart lesson from my young friend Donovan.

I was sitting in the kitchen having coffee with my next-door neighbor Eileen, while her 5-year-old son Donovan, dressed courageously in his Superman costume was engaged in quite a heated debate about why he couldn’t wear his costume to school.

He kept inserting himself into our conversation. He was continually asking me questions:

“Neen do you like to play outside or in?”  OUTSIDE. “Neen, cats or dogs?” CATS! “Neen, Obi Wan or Yoda?” YODA of course!

Then he said, “Neen you’re not listening to me!” I replied, “YES, I AM, HONEY.” He assured me I was not, then jumped in my lap, grabbed my face in his tiny little hands, turned it towards him, and with great Superhero passion and intensity, he said the words I will never forget.

‘NEEN, LISTEN WITH YOUR EYES!”

He was FIVE. It took a 5-year-old to remind me, that we don’t listen with our ears, we listen with our eyes, our hearts, and our souls — and I think that’s what it truly means to pay attention.

It’s a combination of all these things.

Too often, we pay attention to the to-do lists in our head.  Or we’re waiting to respond. Or trying to work out what to say in response to someone, instead of listening intently.

To truly pay attention — or as Donovan says, listening with our eyes, — is being intentional. It’s holding our own agenda at bay. It’s looking someone in the eye. It’s being fully and absolutely present.

In that precious moment, Donovan helped me realize why it’s so important that we pay attention, and why our parents and our teachers and everyone, kept reminding us of this valuable life lesson. Intentional attention is a gift. One you give the people in your world, and one you give yourself.

It’s a game-changer in your relationships. From your friends and family to the people you work with, to the teams you lead, to the customers you support. Make the shift to be more INTENTIONALLY attentive. And watch as your business and life become much more AH-MAZING. Thanks Donovan!

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