There is an elderly Hispanic gentleman who is one of the clients where I work. We helped him file a disability claim. During the lengthy process he called in several times to ask questions, seek assistance, or just to touch base. After receiving a favorable decision from the judge on his case, he called in to express his gratitude for our assistance in helping him navigate the Social Security maze.
Mr. G has "old school" manners, insisting on calling us Mr. or Mrs __, rather than by our first names, always saying please and thank you, and always apologizing for taking up our time. Mr G likes to talk, and he likes to take his time about it, obviously thinking about each word used and each thought he wishes to convey. If multiple phone lines are ringing and everyone is busy, it is tempting to try to cut him short, and push him ahead to the finish line. The funny/neat thing about him is that he really can't be hurried. If you try to redirect the conversation or speed up his train of thought, he will pause and then continue right where he left off. Some of the other staff here find this exasperating and if by chance they take his call, they are quick to pass it off to me with much rolling-of-eyes.
Mr. G has taught me patience... and to LISTEN. All he wants is for someone to take the time to listen politely so that he can be heard and understood. He is an intelligent man, and obviously a deep thinker. After awhile he realized that I would not try to rush him, so now he always asks for me when he calls (more eye-rolling from other staff :-). I don't mind a bit, in fact one day I complimented him on his manners and how refreshing it is to find someone like that in this day and age. It pleased him to no end, and now when he calls he includes even more pleasantries in our conversation. We aren't talking about a thirty minute conversation, maybe ten minutes at most. I figure that if I can't take ten minutes out of my busy day to listen respectfully to an elder, something is wrong. And you know what? I find that by the time we have finished our conversation at slow pace, I am breathing easier and feeling more relaxed too!
Recently Papa Bear and I were watching the movie "We Bought A Zoo". One of the best comments made during the show was "The secret to talking is listening." So true! I love to talk and ramble on, and of course I love to ask lots of questions, but if I really want to have a meaningful exchange with someone else I need to listen, and I'm actually a pretty good listener too! Everyone has a story to tell, you can learn so much from them if you will just take the time. If we all slowed down the pace of our lives just a bit and took time to really listen to each other it would be a much nicer world.