wait is a four letter word

3 oclockThe alarm went off at 3:00 AM, only a few hours after my head hit the pillow. Begrudgingly, I forced myself awake and moving to catch the 6:00 AM flight. At least the effort and pain of this early hour meant we would arrive to Albuquerque by 10:30 AM and enjoy a full day with my sister and my dad.

The departure to Houston was uneventful. We even received upgrades for that first flight, and we were about to arrive on time when the tower denied our landing because of fog in the area. The pilot first communicated that we would circle above the airport and wait for permission to land. Fifteen minutes later, the pilot informed us that we did not have enough fuel to wait any longer, and we would have to land at a nearby airport.

That detour cost approximately 60 minutes in the air there and back and another 40 minutes on the ground for re-fueling. Our connecting flight was long gone by then. Oh well, we thought, we could just wait for the airline to re-book us on the next flight.

When the automatic re-booking option came through on my phone, we would be arriving in Albuquerque… at 11:00 PM(!) with a detour through Denver. UGH! Basically the whole day lost, WAITING, sitting around in airports. Not my idea of fun.

We stopped at a service desk to check for better options, and I asked some friends to pray that we might find an earlier flight. The texts back and forth from my friends made me laugh and lightened the mood. In addition, they offered suggestions for using the waiting time:

  • Rest and relax
  • Stop at Starbucks 🙂
  • Eat something
  • Write a blog post on waiting!

We also walked, shopped, read, and enjoyed some “Face-Time” with our children. We eventually found an 8:00 PM arrival. All in all, the day was long, but we were safe and not much changed as a result. It did not take much effort to fill the time, and it helped to not get angry or irritated with people or circumstances along the way.

I remembered – once again – interruptions and delays are an inevitable part of life. We wait for relationships, jobs, disease cures, prodigal children to come home, and bucket-list dreams to come true. I can’t control them, but I can control my attitude as I wait.

How do you handle interruptions and delays in your life?


 

Photo credit: amyvdh / Foter / CC BY-NC

doing away with distractions

Authentic listening requires intentional, active, uninterrupted attention. Distractions are a common hindrance to listening well, and they interfere with our desire to communicate and/or coach with care, curiosity, and connection. 

respect listening

I have been very challenged and convicted by all I am learning in my M.A. Counseling and Coaching class. We spent weeks studying listening skills, and I realize how much I still have to learn and improve.

One of the books we are reading is: Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills and Heart of a Christian Coach by Tony Stoltzfus. I highly recommend it.

listening flattery

This is one of the listening self-evaluations from the chapter on distractions. When I read through these statements, I saw many ways I could improve my listening. I think you might find it helpful also. Reflect on a recent past conversation or coaching appointment you had. Answer the questions, adding or subtracting points as appropriate.

Let me know how you did!

Distracting Environment

-1   Your e-mail or IM program was open in front of you.

-1   Your to-do list was sitting out in front of you where you could read it.

-5   You did e-mail, IM or work on other projects while you were talking/coaching.

-1   You were sitting at your main work desk.

-1   You could hear a noticeable amount of background noise (others talking, a phone ringing, TV, etc).

 -2   Your door was open, the place you were coaching in has no door, or you were in a public place.

-2   You finished another meeting, project or deadline within 10 minutes before the appointment.

-2   You rushed in or worked on other tasks right up to the moment the appointment/conversation started.

-2   There is a fair amount of stress and conflict in your life, or you are emotionally needy.

-1   You were hungry, thirsty, tired or otherwise in a state of physical discomfort.

___   Total

Supportive Environment

+1   You organized your notes/resources for this person/client and kept them easily accessible.

+3   You took at least 10 minutes before this appointment to get centered and review your notes/materials.

+2   You’ve made a serious personal commitment to be all there while you were coaching/talking.

+3   Your desk, screen, and or table/desk were clear, or you had a separate place to talk/coach away from daily work.

+1   You had a phone headset. (If the conversation took place by phone.)

+1   You had a comfortable environment to talk/coach in (correct temperature, good chair, etc.).

+1   You prayed for this person/client this week.

+3   You didn’t have any calls, walk-ins or interruptions while you talked/coached.

+2   You scheduled your appointment at a time of day when you are alert and well rested.

+1   Your connection was clear and totally reliable. You aren’t using a cell phone or voice chat.

___    Total

Distraction + Supportive = ________ Final Total

(**If your final score is negative, may want to change your environment. If you are coaching professionally, the bar should be higher: if your score is less than +7, you may want to make some changes to improve your listening environment.)

Do distractions affect your ability to listen well? What could you change?

___________

Stoltzfus, Tony (2005). Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills and Heart of a Christian Coach (Kindle Locations 2662-2685).