I recently saw the Tom Hanks movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a story about an incredible human being. You didn’t have to grow up with him to appreciate the plot, which is about a reporter’s experience with the man as he interviewed him. I won’t tell you anymore because you just have to see the movie. It isn’t the most exciting one out there, but it will hopefully make you want to be like Mr. Rogers, warm your heart, and maybe ignite some compassion and love for your fellow man.
Mr. Roger’s mission was simple: “Help children deal with their feelings in a positive way.” Before it was ever a thing, he was addressing emotional intelligence or EQ. How he connected with them was inspirational and touching, and his example is one we should all follow. Fred Rogers had laser focus when interacting with others. He saw them and heard them. Even emotionally troubled or disconnected people who were often fearful of sharing their feelings opened up to him. Why? Because he was engaged with his heart; he was an excellent listener.
All communication must start with first understanding others and that requires listening. We must genuinely desire to hear their message instead of wanting to share our opinion. Every human being has basic human needs to be seen and heard. That’s just a fact. Unfortunately in our fast-paced, high-tech world, we often forget to slow down and be with one another.
Certain behavioral styles have an easier time listening than others, but we all could benefit from practicing listening with empathy. It takes work, and we learned in the movie that Mr. Rogers had a heavy burden to carry because of his compassion. He wouldn’t have it any other way, and he practiced what he preached by taking care of his own emotions in ways that worked for him.
This Thanksgiving holiday, let us not be counting down the moments until we can speak or put the game on. Let us lean in close to another and listen with our hearts. If you are in a leadership role and struggle with truly hearing your employees, coaching can help. I have communication and EQ assessments that give us a great foundation to create action items for improving as well as my book, Leveraging Your Communication Style.