How many times do we get interrupted when we are in the middle of something? Usually the intruder has some urgent agenda. It could be something as simple; as where are my socks? Or, “help me find my keys because I am late for a meeting”. We may also use the interrogation model. “Where did you put my cinnamon?” Or interrupt with demands, “call your sister, she needs you.” For the student, it could be a command, “go get your homework done right now!” If we admit it, I am sure most of us have found ourselves plowing through while interrupting, even those who are closest to us. We are convinced that our needs are so much bigger, then what is going on with the other person.
Think for a moment: How do I feel when I am interrupted by someone’s urgent need?
How do I feel when, someone barges in, trying to give me their opinion, or criticism, perhaps unwanted advice?
How do I feel when I am concentrating on a project and someone insists I listen to their stories?
Sometimes, we are so into our own situation in life that we fail to consider that the other person is not ready to hear our story. There could be a variety of reasons, but our minds may go to feeling rejected or ignored. Perhaps the person is just plain tired, maybe preoccupied with a concern etc.
Consider this: How would you feel if someone came to you and stopped while noticing if you seem occupied or relaxed? Then, they would ask if you have a moment to talk with them? If you say yes, they would go ahead and voice their story/concerns/questions/their upsets/their exciting moments. While the person is talking, he/she would be tuning in to notice your body language (a smile, a frown, drooped shoulders, or upright and alert stance) while gauging if the you are actively listening or appearing bored. He would wind down if he/she sensed that your capacity to listen is going into overwhelm. He would let you rest and perhaps resume the conversation at another time. And if your answer is no, then he would say, “OK, I would love to talk with you, perhaps we set up a time that is good for you?” Still he would be glad to be with you, either engaging in conversation or just pausing quietly as you go on with your own plans.
We should never assume that our agenda is more important than theirs, nor should we assume that the other person has plenty of time to listen to you. As you tune into their needs and constraints, you honor the person they are, and make them feel safer in the relationship between the two of you. You build a friendship of joy as you honor each other’s boundaries, while still being glad to be together.
As you respect one another’s capacity for Joy you are modeling what it’s like to grow and be glad to be together in whatever state you find yourselves. Either upbeat and full of energy or low and quiet Attunement is a seed in building Joyful families, Joyful churches, Joyful communities.
Marsha Kumar

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