Perhaps the most useful thing I learned at the doula workshop last week was something I never expected to learn, but I really need to learn.
D talked to us doula students about the importance of active listening, which is something that I’m not particularly good at. Everyone likes to talk and have their ideas be heard, but me more so than most people! (Hence this blog!) I’m a talkative, chatty lady who has ideas about everything and strong ideas about a few things. Listening is not my best skill.
But, D talked about the importance of active listening to us, and she demonstrated it many times throughout the training as she dealt with questions and situations that came up naturally in class. Seeing her actively listen over and over again — and having it happen between her and me in a few private conversations outside of the training — helped me to see how active listening works in real life. I’ve heard about active listening before, read about it, probably even practiced it a bit in college, but I never really GOT it.
However, now I think I may be starting to truly understand how it works. Mind you, I’m not saying that I’m good at it yet, because I’m not, but I’m starting to see how and why it works. I’ve tried it a bit with Lyd and with a friend, and it worked amazingly well.
It’s a skill I didn’t learn when I was growing up, but it’s a skill I will need to cultivate to not only be a good doula, but also to be a good friend, mother, and pastor’s wife.
The other, slightly related, thing that D taught me was that I don’t have to say everything I know about a subject at one time. For example, I know a LOT about childbirth, especially in regards to how it works naturally. D reminded me that when I’m in a conversation about childbirth (or any other topic on which I know a lot and feel passionately about), I need to be careful not to “vomit up information” onto the other person. I need to hold myself back and dish out only small doses of information at a time.
I mentioned that to JJ, and he agreed. I have this desire to share everything I know about a topic with the people that I’m talking to, but that probably isn’t the most ideal way to convince the other person that s/he should agree with what I’m saying.
So, my interpersonal skills got a big boost this past weekend. I’m very thankful for that. 🙂