Counting the Omer with Daniel Beaupain
Day 43 — Listening and Contributing
Shomeia U’Mosif • שומע ומוסיף
By Daniel Beaupain, Amsterdam, Netherlands
I serve as a court appointed legal guardian/trustee. My tasks include managing the financial areas of my clients and helping them to decide on other issues in their life.
The persons entrusted in my care call me with all sorts of issues. If I am too friendly they call me more often, expecting me to solve all their problems, even when the issues are outside my purview of authority. However, when my response to their issues is too businesslike or very short and to the point, I can receive a formal complaint. When they are unhappy with my services, I have even received physical threats.
My relationship with a certain client was troublesome, at least from my perspective. This client typically calls very often for even the most trivial things and since the legal system only pays me to devote 1.4 hours per month to serve each client, I am often abrupt or critical in my response. Yet, this tactic was not working and the client kept calling frequently.
I decided on a new strategy. What if I started our conversation in a different way, by asking how the person is doing, and really listening to what they are saying? I found that the atmosphere immediately changed. The result was that the client followed my suggestion to only call on a fixed day. When I take the time to listen and understand what the client is really saying, I have found much greater success.
A lesson which I carry with me is that we have ONE mouth and TWO ears. This means I should listen more and talk less. My experience has taught me another valuable lesson. A good conversation starts with deep listening and NOT by an eloquent speech or rebuke.
Here is my practice: ear #1 is used to hear the words, ear #2 is used to understand what the other person is saying. I then use both ears to either give advice, when the issue relates to something outside my authority, or take action, when the issue is something that falls within my mandate. In this small way I can make a contribution to a better world. All I needed was to change my frame of mind.
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