And the World Goes ‘Round

Boise, Idaho—there’s no doubt we live in one of the most beautiful locations in North America. The photo below is just one of the lovely scenes we pass on our daily walks. And though the water’s been turned off for the winter and the wheel isn’t currently going ‘round, it’s still captivating.

Water wheel

In my most recent article for Sibyl magazine I wrote:

Communication—not love—is what makes the world go round. One of the strongest human longings is to be heard and acknowledged. This need is deeply anchored to our connection with others.

I went on to say:

Excellent communicators make eye contact with the other person and take in what they’re saying. They give visual clues and utilize encouraging expressions of agreement—nodding their head, smiling, softly saying uh-huh—to let the other person know that they’re actively listening.

Who was the last person you gifted with your undivided attention?


65 thoughts on “And the World Goes ‘Round

  1. I never knew Boise was so beautiful until I started following your blog, Laurie!

    It is true that in today’s world, we are often multi-tasking–I might be cooking dinner or doing something else when I talk to my mom on the phone. But I hope that I do also give undivided attention in conversations. I suppose the last person was my husband last night.

    (I imagine though in some cultures there are other visual clues and motions to show paying attention?)

  2. A few minutes ago I gifted a negative inner thought with my full attention. Strangely enough, that’s what it needed and wanted for it dissolved after feeling fully heard and allowed to exist. Lovely wooden wheel…

  3. This is the second post about authentic listening in less then 24 hours! I someone trying to tell me something?

    I don’t have much contact with people on a personal one on one level these days, yet each person I interact with I seek to acknowledge their presence.

  4. I had no problem giving husband Cliff my full attention including eye contact yesterday. He had been gone on his November Tour for 12 1/2 days. I missed those blue eyes. . .

    Just this morning I visited another blog post with these choice lines: “Love at first sight is easy to understand; it’s when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle.” – Sam Levenson

    Sibyl magazine is fortunate to have you as a contributor. Communication with love is what makes the world go ’round. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  5. I agree. Lack of communication, whether it is at home or at work, causes many problems and leaves people feeling inadequate and resentful.

    I work with children with specific learning difficulties on a one-to-one basis and they always get my full attention. My husband gets his fair share too!!! 😁

  6. Yes, so important and I find it is sadly a relatively rare occurrence. In my profession as a coach it is a critical aspect of making a true connection and learning about my coaching partner. Yesterday I met with a leader and know that being present with her and exploring her POV led to an important moment of insight.
    I love conversations with young children. If they want your full attention (and don’t think they have it). I’ve seen them touch or pull the others face toward them or repeatedly call the others name. Sadly today young people are also be the ones who zone out into their video games or TV or with older ones texting and ignoring those in front of them. I worry about that.
    At the last party with family and friends I went to I did a little social experiment, I wanted to see how many people actually asked me (and listened fully to my response) some question about myself or even my work. I did lightly inquire with others (questions appropriate for a party situation of course). You guessed it … not one person. Not totally sure what to make of it. Maybe they just enjoyed the opportunity to talk about themselves; maybe they weren’t interested in my life; maybe they were distracted … not sure. I don’t see many of them often so there would be new info to learn. I know they care so that’s not it. I’ve tried this experiment in other situations … real connection making appears to be a lost art.

    • Audrey — Knowing you personally, I can say with certainty that the outcome of your experiment had nothing to do with you. It is, however, a sad commentary on the time we live in. I’ve done something similar with people I know well. I’ll say, “Tell me something about you that I’d be surprised to learn.” After they’ve shared, the question is rarely asked in return.

      • I wonder what is underlying this insular living. Perhaps the opposite of the “being awake” and engaged approach to life we aspire to and practice at.
        By the way I would love to know the answer to that question you’ve posed. Perhaps an exchange of emails ?

    • Hi Audrey
      Your observations provide strong supporting evidence for the common insanity of our age:
      Most people worry about what other people will think of them – when the overwhelming evidence is that most won’t – most people are too concerned with themselves to even notice others (other than as physical objects).
      When one does start to notice others, and the various levels at which others can and do exist (often simultaneously), and to interact at those levels – the world becomes a very different place.

  7. Yes, no doubt Boise is a scenic paradise, and you have provided glowing documentation since you re-located there Laurie. As we move closer to winter we in the areas of frigid temperatures and unending snow can much appreciate this comfortable terrain. The last person I listened to attentively was a young student this morning, a talented boy who spared no details in describing the kind of Thanksgiving Day he would be enjoying with his family on Thursday. 🙂

  8. I can honestly say that would be the person I talked with yesterday. I must confess that sometimes things outside of the conversation will distract me, and then I feel guilty. Do you think blogging is part of an effort to communicate?

    • Carol — I do, indeed, think that blogging is in great part an effort to communicate. In fact, I know several people who’ve turned their well-received blogs into books. YOU would be the ideal coffee-table-book candidate with your vivid photography 🙂

  9. You dear Laurie I am giving you my undivided attention to you right now 😉 I love the area where you live such beauty . I am glad you appreciate it …that’s what it’s all about . Actually I think I have a problem with listening , and that isn’t because I don’t want to hear what the other person has to say . I think I find it difficult to relax when someone talks to me . I’m all of a sort when I should be taking in information . It can be difficult when asked my opinion and I look kind of blank . I told you away with the fairies. Those who know me just accept me and repeat themselves ha ha .

  10. I grew up in a house full of highly sensitive, insecure introverts! Not much eye contact went on there! The upside is that it has led me to a lifelong passion for connection and communication and an ongoing desire to overcome my natural inhibitions. Introverts tend to look away from another’s eyes very quickly. That’s one way to spot them. It is not easy for them to maintain eye contact and yet they are also often highly sensitive. They feel the pain of disconnection at a profound level creating a catch 22. Introverts need to feel safe and creating that safe, relaxed space is a first step toward a deeper connection. I was so aware of this raising my children and it remains a constant challenge for all of us. To complicate matters further, we live in a society that values extroversion and devalues introversion, adding a layer of shame to those who are natural shy. Every time I speak to my sons I work to create a safe space and to establish eye contact and acceptance. As I’ve gotten older it’s become easier to extend this beyond the family and I enjoy making genuine eye contact with people throughout my day. It’s amazing what one can discover in the eyes of the gentlemen bagging your groceries. Not all look back, but many do and their reaction tells me they are grateful to be noticed and treated kindly. Thank you for this post, Laurie. As always, she stir my thinking!

    • Dorothy — Thank you for throwing your hat in the ring. You’ve brought up such a valuable topic as it relates to a significant portion of the population when communicating: introversion and shyness. [By the way, I think many people would be surprised to know that I’m an introvert who functions as an extrovert]…

  11. The very last person I gave my undivided attention to Laurie was my husband as we reviewed aspects of our last few days which we spent apart. It was dark in and quiet of pillow talk. What was being said in itself seemed secondary. We were mostly saying – it is good to see you, to have you home, to be home.

  12. Hi Laurie
    The person I see most often 😉
    And agree – communication is a huge part of existence, and sometimes being creative, even if one cannot communicate that creativity adequately, is just as important.

  13. Laurie, that would have to be my new cat Nuleo. . .with eyes wide, voice strong with conviction I say “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” while shaking my index finger left to right in front of his beautiful blue eyes, as he prepares for one more jump on the counter. So far so good. . .I do have the spray bottle at the ready, however:)

    • Alison — I remember those days. We had two Tuxedo cats (Patrick and Dougan) for 18 years. When they we’re kittens, we shifted in to spray-bottle-mode to train them. We’d always make a “Psssssssst” sound at the same time as squeezing the trigger. Later, all we had to do was make the sound, sans the spray bottle 🙂

  14. There was an incident in the street yesterday and there was a good deal of listening to each other and pulling together. Thanks for making me think again, Laurie, and for the great picture.

  15. I just finished a conversation with Facetime with grandchildren Owen and Julia. They are visiting their other grandparents in Tulsa, so we are using technology to communicate. Owen asked, “Did you get new glasses, Grandma?”

    “Yes, Owen. Can you tell what color they are?”

    “They are dark blue!”

    “Good observation, Owen. Many people think they are black, but you looked carefully and saw the difference.”

    Love listening and learning with these children.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Len, and Evan!


  16. Laurie, It was with my Intended, Dennis, who was busily chopping celery in the kitchen. I said, “Hey! Watch out with that knife!”. Actually, he was being good enough to help with Thanksgiving preparations and I wanted him to know I was concerned for his welfare, the knife would take care of itself.

  17. I would have to say Sandi. I love looking into the windows of her soul.

    Your words ring true and get results when applied.
    Years ago, I put this poster up in the front of my classroom:


    Sit up straight.
    Lean forward.
    Ask pertinent questions.
    Nod as you listen.
    Talk to your teachers.

  18. In a job interview, one year ago, I was asked about the most important aspect of teaching. I answered: “to listen”. Next the interviewer told me that I was the first that day to give this answer. I was the last to be interviewed and I got that job. So answering your question: undivided attention: yes, yesterday, my students 🙂 with a big smile.

  19. hum….I guess to be honest it was myself….seems like life has been racing by me…and I needed to have a little one on one time with me, refocus, go over whats been going on in my life and get it straight in my head…so a trip to the pool, it was all about me, LOL and I was able to do some heavy thinking and just sort things out with me… I gifted myself the time to take care of me…….thanks for making us think about great topics…..hope your enjoying the beautiful holiday season….and Boise is certainly a beautiful area to live….Idaho is one of my favorite places to visit….Riggins is one of my special places to sit and watch time go by….LOL xxkat

    • New Journey — We’ve not been to Riggins YET, but you can bet your bottom dollar that we will. My pilot-husband, Len, is looking up landing strips as we speak. I love that you carved out some serious me-time! 🙂

      • thanks…its important to take care of ourselves first so we can be at our best for others…at least that is what I have learned works best for me….we also love the other side of the state…the Salmon River off 93, we stay at the Royal Gorge right above Challis….(30 miles) its also a beautiful drive….we go up 95…cross over the Clearwater river to Lolo Montana and come home 93 down the big Salmon River….great country…..

      • you make me smile….you live in a beautiful state….well worth checking out…another state worth checking out is Utah, it has 5 National Parks all different and beautiful….let me know if you need more info….kat

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