The holidays provide a good opportunity to spend quality time with family, friends and coworkers. Rather than getting stressed about holiday obligations, think about these opportunities as making “deposits” in your relationship banks. The time you spend is an investment into the relationship’s long-term success. 

Spending time with people means talking with them. Whether personal or professional, conversation is a big part of this season. Most people are very good at talking about themselves. Why is that? Insecurity, self-importance, passion? Whatever the underlying cause, the best approach you can take in these conversations is to focus on listening.

Listening is more than hearing. Too often, we participate in conversations by focusing less on what the other person is saying and more on what we’re going to say next. When you show that you are truly comprehending what another person is saying, rather than just waiting your turn to reply, you add to their self-worth and you validate them. Who wouldn’t want that for a gift?

What’s the secret to great listening?

  • Speak less. Don’t try to “one up” the other person, dominate the conversation or prove a point. Know you’re okay being just who you are (that’s also one of the best gifts you can give yourself!).
  • Demonstrate that you’re paying attention. Greet the other person with a smile. Look them in the eyes and honor their thoughts. Taking these actions will help you focus and drown out distractions.
  • Ask questions and actively listen to the responses. Try to listen without the intent to reply. Practice patience and listen completely until the person finishes his or her point.

We live in an increasingly busy and chaotic world. No matter who you are, or how busy you are, take the time to listen to others. Break out of the old habits of not listening and needing to be the center of attention. Remember, you’re great just the way you are—it’s OK to let someone else shine!

Not only will better listening make the holidays more enjoyable, it will help you in your professional and personal life. And it doesn’t cost a dime!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna