I want you to be the first to know… I’m 57 years old and pregnant!

April Fools (a day early), of course. 

This holiday always reminds me of the fun pranks my daughters would play on me. Teenage pregnancy was a predominant theme. So was failing an exam, or being drunk. 

After my heart skipped a beat from their prank, I would laugh along.

Soon I realized my daughters used shock value and humor to get me to listen.

By listening to their jokes, I understood these were some of the things they were thinking of and exposed to — it opened the door to deeper conversations.

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We don’t need an April Fools’ joke to get us to pay attention if we practice the fine art of listening the rest of the year.

Here’s a crazy thing that happens when you change the cadence of a conversation and intentionally pause: the person you are with often fills in the silence with something else that’s on their mind. 

They feed you information that is important, meaningful and even might have been unsaid if there wasn’t space for it.

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One of the women I love, Brené Brown said:

“One of the most courageous things to say in an uncomfortable conversation is “Tell me more.’

“Exactly when we want to…change the topic…or counter…we also have the opportunity to ask what else we need to know to fully understand the other person’s perspective.

“Help me understand why this is important to you, or help me understand why you don’t agree with a particular idea. And then we have to listen.”

Hear, hear. You can start learning to listen better today:

  • Start small: In your next conversation, instead of responding, ask a probing question like, “Tell me more.” Opening up that space will give you a greater understanding of them and gives them an invitation to share with you in a way they might not have before.
  • Stop interrupting: For many of us, when we think we know where someone else is going, we stop listening. I know I’m often guilty of this. But when we finish other people’s sentences or ideas, we are often inserting our view and may be wrong in our interpretation. We may miss out on information, insight, or meaningful perspective.
  • Find something to laugh about: Try an April Fool’s joke tomorrow that evokes a conversation on an uncomfortable topic. If you have a joke played on you, tune in — what may have given them that idea? Laugh, start asking questions, and listen up. 

Whatever the situation, it probably felt great to be acknowledged, recognized, supported, and valued.

Since today is International Women’s Day – a day that “sees” women and recognizes our contributions – it’s time to reflect. 

To amplify your actions:

  • Share it with me: I hope you share how April Fool’s Day gave you a chance to listen to someone (or your inner self) by replying to this email.
  • Share it small: If you want more of an intimate connection, connect directly with the friend, family member, or colleague who is sharing an uncomfortable topic.
  • Share it big: Tell the world on social media how April Fool’s Day changed your perspective on listening with #OneSmallThing.

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