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The Power of the Pause

Mindful speech, and the ability to really listen, are at the heart of all relationships.   - Marshall Glickman

We are all involved in multiple conversations throughout the course of a typical day. We converse - with our children, our spouses, our co-workers, even the grocery clerk. But how often do we really listen?

Being present and listening to what others have to say takes patience and practice. Most of us engage in "assumptive listening," especially when interacting with those we know well, such as our children or spouse. We assume we know what the speaker will say rather than listening to what they are actually saying, and often formulate a response before they finish speaking!

George Kinder, the father of Financial Life Planning, taught a two day workshop during an Alliance Of Comprehensive Planner's conference I attended. I always considered myself a good listener in my work with clients (maybe not as much with my spouse!). Yet, over the course of two days, I learned the power of the pause. Allowing moments of silence, responding with positive affirmations and deeply listening is an invitation to the speaker. Everyone has a story to tell; they just need permssion to share it.

When we listen, the stories we learn about others' dreams and goals can be powerful, and often different from what we may have assumed. Stories shared between people of diverse backgrounds can build a base of commonality to work together from, as well as enable new approaches pieced together from the shared experiences.

To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words....Good listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow your mind's hearing ....and hear beneath the words to their meaning.

   -Peter Senge

In my role as a financial advisor, I am privy to many money conversations (including the ones that take place in my home), and recognize that communicating about money is often more difficult than talking about sex!  These conversations can be less difficult if we come prepared to really listen, suspending judgement and preconceived notions of what is "right" and "wrong". 

When given the listening space, the stories that clients reveal, both to me and to themselves, remind them why they get up and do what they do each day....remind them why they are alive.