Listening: Respect with Our Entire Body

At Dream BIG this week our character trait is RESPECT. As a camp we strive to respect our community, our environment and ourselves. This can be achieved from something as little as following directions, picking up trash after lunch, or drinking enough water during the day. We asked some members of the Dream Team what respect means to them and all of them replied that to respect another you should follow the Golden Rule and “treat others the way you wish to be treated.”

In order to receive respect we must first demonstrate respect for others. Respect means understanding and accepting that others may have a different background and may have had different experiences than we have had. It is exemplified by showing consideration for one another, and by being nice and friendly to everyone even if we do not agree or get along with them. Respect is rooted in the understanding that everyone is human and is entitled to his or her own emotions, choices and perspective. Respect is not something that is inherent; we must learn how to respect from those around us.

Many personal essays found in NPR’s “This I Believe” database touch on the importance of respect. Indeed, the collective purpose of the works, as described by the website, “is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”

The Dream Team is instilling the importance of listening as a crucial part of respect. Campers are supposed to be quiet in order to hear what others are saying, and they are also expected to listen with attention. One of the “This I Believe” essays stresses the fact that hearing is what you do with our ears, but listening is done with our entire body. To listen involves not only our ears, but also our eyes as we watch their body language and make eye contact, our brains as we engage with what the other is saying, and controlling the rest of our bodies so we do not distract ourselves. By engaging the entire body in the act of listening we can show others that “… in my silence and focus, am saying, ‘I see you. I hear you. For this moment, you have my complete attention.’” The author bemoaned the fact that truly listening to one another is a rare occurrence because people are usually all too ready to interrupt the other with what they think is more important. It was also noted that when people feel as if they understand the other, they listen less attentively and are more likely to interrupt.

In today’s world it is true that we are all rushing around. It can be difficult to take the time to truly listen to everyone we speak to. So, in our daily lives we must remember to make eye contact with those who are speaking, smile encouragingly, and wait until certain that the other person is done speaking; in other words we need to listen with our entire body.

In addition to listening, the Dream Team outlined other ways for people to practice respect:

-Be kind to and considerate of everyone

-Follow directions

-Never belittle or insult anyone, allow others to maintain their dignity

-Think before speaking


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