The Secret Weapon of Listening

I heard that the reason that we have two ears and one tongue is that we are required to listen twice as much as we speak. Yet, how often do we tend to talk over the other person in a conversation? The thing is, when we are talking, our listening diminishes and worse still, our understanding of what is being said by the other person is lost. So, we can take part in a long conversation and understand very little of it. Now, consider this scenario with your boy who is telling you something. You see, what the boy may say might not seem very important to you, but, to him, it is of the uttermost importance. When we talk over our boys or dismiss what they have to say, we crush them. That’s why many boys do not talk.

boy and parent

Because the odds are so much against our boys, they are often in search of someone who will give them a listening ear and for the most part, finding that someone is often a futile adventure. It is in the home that a boy first tries to find someone who would listen and when he is unable to find such a person, it is a tremendously discouraging reality that he faces. For, seldom, will he find someone outside the home that will provide the comfort, assurance, love, interest, and candor that he needs to share his heart. Any boy who is in this dilemma of loneliness will suppress his feelings; the questions that he has will increase and dealing with life will become something beyond his capability. To understand this is to understand the reason for a boy’s irrationality, anger, frustration, unwillingness to comply with authority, and many other defaulting actions.

I realized from a very early age that I seemed to have an affinity to listen to the plight of other people. And over the years, in my field as an educator, I purposed to be a support for those who could easily be misunderstood or left to the wiles of the lack of knowledge. I truly believe, that, without knowledge, there could be much danger. Hence, I purposely devoted myself to use the secret weapon of listening. I used this as a teacher and as an administrator. I discovered that people often do not want you to solve their problem. Rather, they often would like you to listen to what they have to say. It is as if all they want to do is to get what is bothering them off their proverbial chest. So, a good strategy to adopt may be to listen more and talk less.

listen

As a principal of a school in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, one of my secretaries asked me how it was that angry parents who came to see me about a school issue left my office smiling. This secretary had seen other principals who had difficulty with other parents and it was puzzling to her that I was able to order peace to stormy situations. The solution was not in anything that I said. The solution was my ears; I listened to them. As a matter of fact, many parents told of that observation: Mr. E. you listen to us. To me, listening was key and I never hesitated to use the key. Furthermore, I was very skillful in pulling down barriers between parents and me. As a rule, I would not sit in my big chair, behind my big desk as thought I was some big person; someone who lauded it over them. I purposely sat in a chair next to them and began my conversation by telling them that I wanted to listen to what they had to say. In the end, the conversation will end amicably and parents often left with the sense that they were heard.

Listening is the secret weapon that can get to the root of many problems, especially those problems that boys have. I firmly believe that many boys do not talk to parents because they do not see them as confidants. They often see them as judges and correctional officers. Boys have question, they have struggles, and the odds are against them. We cannot afford to increase the odds by not giving them our ears. They want to be heard, so, when they speak, you must not speak; you must listen.

That’s all for today, until next time.

Remember to purchase a copy of my book. You can get it at Amazon.

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Are the Odds of Surviving Against Boys?

I recently learned of an encounter that a teenage boy had which landed him in prison after he was charged with two counts of armed robbery and given two 9 year sentences to be served concurrently. The facts showed that the boy had the property of another person in his possession. And although he did not physically take the property, he was found with it and as a result was connected to the crime.

Nothing that the teenage could do or say was enough to clarify what really happened and show that he indeed did not rob anyone; that he was given the property by another person and asked to hold it. He was found guilty of robbery. Knowing what we know about the way the system of justice deals with boys, especially some boys, the outcome was no surprise. It was simply another thump in our collective stomachs. This boy had dreams of going into the Marines, but, as he put it, instead of going into the Armed Forces, he ended up in the DOC (Department of Corrections).

I wonder, how many boys with grand dreams of a bright and fulfilling future will not see it actualized, because of odds against them? We don’t have to be scared at the potential prospects of trouble ahead, we need to do something about it. I’ll be doing just that. Are you with me?

Systems are not entities to themselves. They are devised by human beings, albeit human beings that are full of faults, cultural biases, and in some cases downright dislike for others. Let’s face it! This may sound a bit harsh, but in reality, our judicial system is set up to do harm mingled with some good. I truly wish it wasn’t, but, that’s what it is. The stats show it and the physical prison populations show it also.

Knowing that the system is flawed, the work that must be undertaken to save our boys becomes the more critical. The work must be deliberate, persistent, and consistent. It has to be, because, without a concerted effort, this battle to save our boys will be a losing battle. It is time that we do all we can to rescue our boys from the judicial system’s warehouses that are called jails.

Watch this reality: the teenage boy I mentioned earlier, after his release, met with a probation officer to go over expectations conditional to his release. After his first meeting, the boy was very anxious about his prospects. He feared that he could return to prison, not for a crime, but that he could easily breach the restrictions put on him. He was given a ^:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew.

As this man was well into his thirties, he realized that although he had served time in prison and released, he was not really free. He said that he felt like a dog on a leash. That it felt like he was still in prison, for, here was someone controlling when he could be out and when he had to be in.

Today, I want you to take a good look at your boy or boys and begin to devise plans to ensure that they are protected from the odds and that they walk into the promise of a fulfilled life. Let’s all get to work.Let’s change the odds. It can be done; indeed, it must be done.

Until next time —

Remember to get a copy of my book from Amazon. With the holiday coming, this can be a good gift for a young person or anyone for that matter. My book deals with the power of the mind to make things happen. A good read for people of all ages.

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