President’s Message

There are numerous ways in which I benefit from interacting with our UUCRT
family and it is heartwarming to reflect on them. Here is one that I would like to share at this time.

About a year ago I had a conversation with a UUCRT friend during Coffee Hour. It was not a mind-shattering conversation; in fact I can’t even recall the subjects we touched on. What I do remember well is the way I felt after the conversation. It left me feeling that she was interested in what I had to say and that she heard me. It was a good feeling, and after a subsequent service, I mentioned it to her. That led to her connecting me with the concept and aspiration of compassionate listening. This means intentionally taking time to focus singly on what the person is
saying and leaving my reactions quiet.

I learned that just as we look and move differently, the way our brain and language
is formulated is also very unique and therefore quite different. When you express
yourself and I listen, I listen based on my way of seeing things, not yours; therefore,
my interpretation of your expression could be totally different from your intent.

I discovered that sometimes, when someone is speaking to me there is almost
always a point at which I stop listening because I start working out how I am going
to respond. Or, I identify something they say which needs to be corrected, or they
trigger a memory and I prepare to share my experience with them. Or, I stop listening if I get turned off because they are talking too much. There are a multitude of reasons for me to stop listening which then prevents me from hearing and understanding them.

I am learning I need to take time out and focus on understanding what they are
saying rather than reacting to it. Allocating those priceless moments for that purpose requires resisting the temptation to include me. It requires asking a question to verify or clarify what they are saying. Doing so by repeating words they used helps with that connecting process. Clarification questions help me better understand them, shows them that I am really trying to connect, and paves the way for even more sincere expressions. And when we both acknowledge and confirm the same point that takes the communication to a whole new level.

I must admit, I am still guilty of giving in to the temptation to think of my response,
but, with time, I am seeing more and more rewards from devoting that precious time to listening to them rather than to me. Do you ever stop listening when someone is speaking to you? Can you identify a specific way in which you have benefitted from a member of our UUCRT family?

-Markly Wilson