It used to upset me when people pointed out things about my manners they thought were inappropriate. I did not welcome being told, “You do not listen. You are too impulsive. You are emotionally disconnected. You really need to think before you speak. You are irresponsible.”
The nerve! Then one day my heart was open and I heard what was said. Honestly taking the comments into consideration resulted in a new realization: when I become uncomfortable with, or offended by, something someone says about me, or when someone challenges my actions, it is a red flag, a sign for me to look within.
Instead of getting angry and impulsively shooting the messenger, as I had in the past, I took to heart what was offered. With honest assessment, I recognized the behaviors pointed out about me were true. By responsibly questioning why my ego was pricked, I was able to accept other people’s observations.
Taking their comments to heart, I began focusing on truly listening to other people. With practice I learned how to quiet my mind so I heard what was being said. I concentrated on keeping myself from interrupting or formulating a response while someone was still talking.
Teaching myself to remain connected to someone’s words as they spoke also helped me learn to be a more patient person. I realized that when I am patient I am also present in the moment. When I am present in the moment I am connected to my heart and what I am feeling. And once I had the patience and awareness to think before speaking, it became easier to discern those who were making accurate observations about my behavior from those who just projected their shortcomings onto me.
Today, I work to remain aware of, and connected to, my words and conduct by listening as I want to be heard, speaking as I want to be spoken to, and treating other people as I want to be treated. Yet no matter how closely I pay attention to my thoughts, words, and actions, I am not perfect by a long shot—I never will be, and that’s okay. Occasionally someone still points out something he or she sees about me that could be improved. I voluntarily take the advice. Now I recognize that one handy tool for identifying necessary change in myself is to listen to and appreciate the messenger.
By being open to what others say, we receive gifts in the form of answers and candid observations about ourselves that, if listened to, sincerely evaluated, and applied, will make us better people. And when we are better people, our relationships will be better.