Sep 5th, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Seniors Earn Respect They Crave

“When you get to be my age…” is often the line to unsolicited and unwanted advice.  Seniors seem to have a claim on experience, wisdom and insight which, they believe, is worthy of a hearing.  And, to be honest, it is.  However, the catch is knowing when and where and how to introduce some of the volume of such great knowledge to and among others.

Feeling that everyone you encounter is on seat’s edge to hear what you have to say may be misreading the audience.  Most of our insights, as we grow older, suffer from several often overlooked conditions.

They are:  repetition.  Repeating the same stories and information over and over will likely bite into the interest in the subject and the attention given by the person or persons with whom it is shared.

When introducing a topic, if beginning with the disclaimer, “have I told you about…” allow the listener to respond.  If they answer yes, then change the subject.

Talking and Listening, Equally Important

Talking and not listening to others wishing to provide input is rude behavior.  It does not earn respect nor does it encourage healthy interchange.

Earned respect is gained or lost by several behaviors:  Sensitivity to others, not making assumptions about what others want to hear, trying to one up others in the conversation with a better tale, keeping the person(s) focused on what you have to offer, commenting on every subject that is introduced, feigning disinterest when the conversation shifts from you to others, and so on.  Earning respect comes from developing behaviors that are consitently polite, thoughtful, engaging and  other centered.

In some settings, it is wisest to  participate by listening, not by talking.  Discovering how to be one who engages others in the way you sit, smile, nod your head, lean into the person doing the talking with genuine interest, affirming the story being told.

When you have the floor, help engage others in ways that they feel a part of the story instead of an audience being entertained.  Allow interruptions, encourage other insights, cultivate active listening and participation.  The environment then becomes more lively, more stimulating and more inclusive.

The result is that earned respect comes with intentionality, sensitivity, and respect for others.  In other words, we earn it as we demonstrate it.

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