“I don’t feel like you’re honoring my voice right now.”
It was directed at me from a 13-year-old. He felt like I wasn’t listening.
3 minutes before the bell was going to ring and I was sending them into Christmas break.
His words hit me, stung me, and ran through me all at once. I even found heartbreak and humor in his sentiment.
The humor coming from the reality that again, the bell was about the ring. The heartbreak that he felt like I was not listening to him. And the small joy that in return, he had been listening to me.
“We honor voice, ” I state.
“Your voice matters.”
“Peeps, if we are not going to honor each other’s voices and listen then why are we doing this?”
“Let’s remember to listen, wait, think, and then respond.”
I say it over and over like a worn out and somehow renewed mantra.
Listen. Wait. Think. Respond.
As an adult having conversations, I usually only do one well. Respond.
Even in my teaching when I tell kids to listen, I’m waiting for my chance to respond. News Flash, J-Tinz. That’s not actually listening.
Enter our cafe conversations.
Conversation-starting questions and stats such as,
“More people own a cell phone than a toothbrush.”
“Would life be better if we were all the same?”
“Has social media made us more or less social?”
Where they sit at the table and solve all the world’s problems.
It all starts with listening.
We are in a world where people say, your voice matters as long as your voice sounds like mine. If you look like me, talk like me, believe exactly what I believe then I honor your voice. If not, then it doesn’t matter. I’m choosing to disregard it.
Regardless of your political stance, generation, race, background–we’ve all seen this and most likely, we are all more than a little guilty of it.
We have so much noise in our world and offer everyone little voice. We give them a slice of a voice. Or worse, no voice at all.
And then I say, “I hear you,” while speaking over you. And I’m sorry. Working on it with you.
Maybe together we can,
(and then) Respond.