Thursday, December 8, 2011

Even "Gabby-Gabbertons" Can Listen Well in Circle

I like to gab. I have several girlfriends who also like to gab some so much in fact that we have mastered the art of gabbing at the same time, equally hearing what the other person is talking about. But this ability to talk and listen at the same time is exclusive to a few people I know - everyone else doesn't understand the flow of these dual conversations - especially my life partner.  In fact, just the other day I confronted him saying, "I bet you wonder how someone like me, who loves to gab a lot, can be a Circle facilitator?" His eyes widened as I caught him red-handed in a truth, "Yes, I've often wondered that!" he exclaimed.  

The truth is, Circle has taught and continues to teach me to be silent and listen more. If you think about it, there is no way to be sure that anyone is actually listening, whether or not they stay silent as you speak (or keep up with the gab).  Circle however, assures us that respectful and attentive listening is to be at the forefront of our minds as we communicate with each other. In Circle, we can have a sense that people are being mindful of the way they are listening to us because of the guidelines set in place for meaningful speaking and listening - and as a Circle facilitator it is my responsibility to oversee that people are holding true to these guidelines and modeling them myself.

I actually enjoy the change of conversation pace and find that I learn more when I keep silent and listen more attentively to what others are saying. But I have learned that there is definitely a place for Circle communication as much as there is a place for the mundane. Circle can be a lot of personal work, requiring higher attention and focus and therefore can leave me feeling emotionally, mentally and spiritually drained after a while.  So while on one hand, it is valuable to be in spaces where you can practice heightened listening (so transformation and deep learning can take place); it is equally valuable to be in spaces where you can let your mind wander or gab your heart out so one can recharge and find balance. 

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