The Greatest Gift
Gifts come in all shapes and sizes and it is often said “it’s the thought that counts”. When thought has genuinely been given, it’s absolutely true that it is a wonderful feeling to know that someone has taken the time to pay attention to you and give consideration to what they think you would like.
It has also been said, “the greatest thing we have to give is our time” and in our present culture where we are so busy, this is not hard to appreciate. I would go further than this and suggest it is our attention that is so valuable.
Focus and Listen: When we spend time with our partners, children, friends, we let them know we care about them and enjoy their company. When we really give them our attention this also shows our respect. And giving our attention means listening. When we listen without interruption, without butting in to make suggestions or tell them ‘I know what you mean because I’ve had a similar experience….’, we are suspending our own thoughts and just focusing on what the other person is saying. It says ‘I care what you think’, and when we create that environment for someone we encourage them to do their own best thinking.
Life coaching clients report a noticeable benefit just from having the opportunity to express their thoughts without being distracted by another person’s input. Hearing your thoughts aloud sounds very different than when they are whizzing around in your head, often getting entangled.
Coaching goes beyond that, but this is something we can all offer our friends, even if it does take a bit of practice! When friends come to us and share a problem, our instinct is often to try to find a way to help them solve that problem with our input: we take on the responsibility, just for that moment. Of course there are times when advice is sought, but very often it is just a friendly ear that is being requested. Paying attention, really paying attention to what is being said and respecting that person’s view and decisions enough not to offer your own unless asked for, that is a real gift.