“Is there anything you know you do want or anything you know you don’t want in your wedding ceremony?” is one of the first questions I ask a couple. When I recently asked this question, the bride, Anne, sort of smiled and said: “We were supposed to talk about this stuff on the ride over here but Rob (the groom) was too busy taking calls from work—so, we don’t really know what we want.”
Anne actually seemed more resigned than angry. After all, that’s what life is like for most of us these days. And, yes, during our meeting Rob continued to take calls. And, no, there was no deadline or emergency at work. It was simply habit.
In the whirlwind of our daily lives, the most common reason why we don’t listen is that we’re just too busy and because we’re busy, we’re tired, and when we’re tired we don’t want to make the effort to be present in the moment so as to listen well.
I know you’ve got a gazillion things to juggle, professionally and personally, but, why go to the expense, time, and emotional investment of your wedding if you aren’t going to be present to it—to each other?
Blackberries. Trios. Text messages. Email. Voice mail. We do business and live our lives in a swirl of information. Yet, how often are we actually communicating, listening?
Here’s a Sanity Saver Quiz to review your take on listening. Jot down whether you agree or disagree with each statement. Make sure your partner also does this checklist. Be honest with your answers (!) and then compare with your partner.
Sanity Saver Quiz:
1. While listening to someone, it’s possible to also pay attention to someone or something else. Agree | Disagree
2. You can make someone listen to you. Agree | Disagree
3. Part of being a good listener is being a good mind reader. Agree | Disagree
4. When you don’t have the time or the interest, it’s better and nicer to just pretend to be listening. Agree | Disagree
5. It’s always a good idea to offer a person advice when they’re having a problem.
Agree | Disagree
6. The most important thing when listening is to look the person in the eye.
Agree | Disagree
So, how well do you and your partner listen to each other? Really listen?
The Chinese characters for “listen” are: Ear, Eye, Heart, and Undivided Attention.
Think about it. Isn’t it true that when you really listen to someone, you’re not just “hearing” him or her? You’re focused on them—on their face, their eyes, their body movement, as well as on what they don’t say, just as much as what they do say.
Remember: in order to stay sane while planning your wedding, you’re going to have to listen—with your ear, your eyes, your heart as you give your partner your undivided attention.