The Power of the Listening Principal.

We all have stories to tell with our lives. Some of us are born with stories pouring out and others….take years to connect to their own stories. If you are confused by “story”, I mean pieces of personal narrative that unite to bring meaning to your life. Stories tend to grow, meander and then take you somewhere new in life.
Do you know these transformative type stories?

A couple of years back, I started telling a story aloud; bits and pieces, scraps of ideas, nothing concrete. Truth be told, when it began it probably sounded like frustration and anger.

But, here is the amazing thing……..

Someone actually listened to my story. When I say listened I don’t mean they just smiled and nodded and watched words come out of my mouth.

They actually heard the words as they came out. They valued what I had to say, they let me say what I needed to say. 

Have you had this experience? Someone hears what you are saying with no strings attached, no judgement, no pay back expected, just… listen….to you.

Wow. I know it does not sound like not much. No pro-d, no advice, no courses to take.  Let me be clear, these opportunities were offered as well. The “listening” however, was the part that was the most significant, singular and unfamiliar to me.  Just a solid set of ears, an open heart and a non-judgemental mind.

Not only did this person listen to my story, they also became a vessel for the scraps and fragments as my story developed and grew. They provided a safe spot where I could pick up and resume to grow my story. They let my story stay alive, when there was no other place in my life to keep it. In this crazy, hectic, and fragmented life, I cannot express accurately how much this meant to me or how vital it was for my growth.

I never felt judged, I never felt used, I never felt I was too enthusiastic, that I should “tone it down”, or was I questioned for wasting time talking crazy.

I was just listened to. I was given space, time, opportunity and the safety to tell my story.

When finally my story began to take shape and meaning, what had started as a heated conversation over school policy, evolved into one of change and growth (See Excuse me, I think I am having a Revolution). The snippets of conversation had taken seed and grown into full-blown tangible changes.

To our principal Scott Mclean, I want to say thank you for listening to me, for hearing me and for the biggest gift of all: letting me hear myself and create my own story.

5 thoughts on “The Power of the Listening Principal.

  1. Carolyn, thanks for sharing and Scott thanks for supporting the story. The narrative of your journey has been a real pleasure. It inspires me as a teacher to do a better job and as an administrator to support innovation and passion. Keep up te fabulous work!!!

  2. Hmm…such a challenge as I read this post. Time and support is such a great encourager. It’s June, who has time to listen? But then again, can we really afford not to? What I hear is your principal validating your experience, validating your humanity, validating your personhood. This encourages me. Thank-you. Paul

    • Hi Paul, I know I am a challenged listener as I tend to be is a rush to get onto the next thing that needs doing. I think more than time, listening requires being fully present in that moment. I found the magic was not the time my principal put into listening to me, but more the quality of his listening. I am trying to be more present in my listening, probably more time efficient in the long run too. Thanks for the comment and your readership.

      • Reminds me of Covey’s Habit #6 – First Seek To Understand, Then To Be Understood. He says, “With people, fast is slow and slow is fast.” You rush something or don’t deal with it properly – it can fester for a really, really long time. But, you put in the time & effort on the front end, the relationship goes well in the long run. Anyways, good stuff.

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