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Why Timing is Everything


I’ve learned that timing is often dependent on how intently I’m listening.

~Jim Hogg

Likely you have heard the saying, Timing is Everything. I remember once, many years ago, when my oldest grandson, Michael, and his uncle, Jon (my next oldest son) were traveling in our car with us. Where we headed and why, I cannot recall. However, my grandson had been getting in trouble with his step-dad for taking issues of importance too lightly in an attempt to be funny. As good uncles do, Jon made the statement “One thing I’ve learned, Michael, and that is that timing is everything.” Which indeed it is.

However, in a recent conversation between my oldest son, Jim, and me, he bumped that statement up a notch when he said, “I’ve learned that timing is often dependent on how intently I’m listening.”

Really adds a whole other element to listening and timing. Sometimes we listen without really hearing what is going on between ourselves and another person. Adding another element to listening and hearing, contemplate this: Don’t listen to what a person says,  listen rather to why they are saying it.

When we do that, we separate out what is about us, and what is about the other person. We each talk in code, repeating what we’ve been taught is correct, or true, or right.

When I challenge myself to understand the other person, where they are coming from, what their values are, and why they say what they do, I can better listen to why they say it.

Often, that why has little to do with me, and so much more to do with them.

Listening is important. Timing is important. Why we say and what we do is important. Why the other person says what they do is equally important. Therewith comes understanding.

Why timing is everything, so is listening

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is really good advice especially for people like me who impulsively answer people’s questions without looking into the subtext. Sometimes I kick myself for not realizing that people are being passive aggressive and I take them at face value. Time for me to wisen up and be a little bit quicker on the uptake!

    June 4, 2012
    • Jessica, we have been trained to think we have to answer every question asked us–and promptly. As we learn that, first, we are not obligated to answer any question. That right there — deciding whether we want to answer it or not, takes a moments reflection. I have worked on retraining myself to give myself time to make that decision–answer it or not. It also gives me time to ask WHY they are asking it.

      I think we’ve all been asked, “Can I ask you a question?” Typically I respond with–you just did! Then I go on to say, “certainly, you can ask me anything you want–however, I reserve the right not to answer it.” Smiling sweetly of course.

      When you suspect they may be passive agressive, you might ask for clarification. This can also apply to statements from other people. After a family wedding I was sitting at breakfast the next morning with the grandmother of the bride. I made the statement, “It was a nice wedding, wasn’t it? (making small talk.) She looked around the room as if stalling, then with hesitation said, “yes, it was nice.” I knew that wasn’t what she wanted to say. I thought, nope, not leaving it there. I looked at her and said, “Okay, “Sally,” this is me you are talking to. What is it that you want to say, but are not?” In a very disgusted voice she said, “Am I wrong or is “bride” pregnant?” I had to decide whether to lie to her, or tell the grandmother of the bride the truth. I chose to tell the truth. (Family secrets SUCK!)

      And, we can be quicker on the uptake when we pay attention to the message our bodies give us at that instant. Pause long enough to identify the feeling, and if possible, the color of that feeling. Color comes with its own meaning. Guess I better do a blog post on color and meaning!

      Conversation is fascinating. Small talk is not always small talk, and even if it is, it can lead to something much deeper. This woman and I connected at a much deeper level, and she so appreciated my honesty. (Of course afterwards I let the bride know what I had revealed.) In the long run, it made little difference to anyone except that grandmother, who was hurting deeply.

      June 4, 2012
  2. Really good advice! Yes, it’s true, I’ve been trained as a “good girl” to respond to people quickly and politely. It’s important to take a moment and tap into our intuition before giving a knee-jerk response to a possibly offensive question – or dismissing a meaningful remark as something insignificant. When it comes to communicating, there’s always room for improvement. Thanks for planting this seed in my head!

    June 4, 2012

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