Kendal's Blog

The Art of Listening: Lessons from Indigenous Teachings

You’ll see Indigenous peoples have a hard time maintaining eye contact sometimes. This comes from our teachings. #FirstNations #Resilience #Treaty6


The Art of Listening: Lessons from Indigenous Teachings

Growing up in Indigenous communities, the art of listening is not just a skill; it’s a way of life deeply ingrained in our cultural teachings. As children, we were taught the importance of giving our full attention to those who speak, whether it be elders sharing wisdom or community members sharing stories.

I vividly remember the gatherings where we would sit on the ground, surrounded by elders or community leaders. Their words carried weight, and our role was clear—to listen, absorb, and learn. There was no room for interruption or distraction; our focus was solely on the speaker before us.

In these moments, we learned the value of humility and respect. Bowing our heads and keeping our eyes downcast were not signs of submission but symbols of reverence for the knowledge being shared. Eye contact was sparing, reserved for moments of connection rather than sustained scrutiny.

As we navigated between our traditional upbringing and the demands of the mainstream world, we encountered challenges in adapting our listening practices. In settings such as universities, businesses, or public speaking engagements, where networking and assertiveness are valued, maintaining eye contact became a learned behavior rather than a natural inclination.

The transition was not without its struggles. The instinct to avert our gaze, born out of centuries of cultural tradition, clashed with societal expectations. Yet, with perseverance and a willingness to adapt, many of us have learned to navigate these spaces while staying true to our roots.

It’s important to recognize that our difficulty in maintaining eye contact is not a sign of disrespect but a reflection of our upbringing and cultural heritage. It’s a reminder of the different ways in which we communicate and connect with others, rooted in centuries-old traditions and teachings.

As we continue to straddle the line between two worlds, let us not forget the lessons of our ancestors. Let us honor the art of listening, not just with our ears but with our hearts and minds. And let us embrace the richness of our cultural heritage, finding strength and resilience in our traditions as we navigate the complexities of modern life.

So, the next time you encounter someone who struggles to maintain eye contact, remember that their journey is shaped by a rich tapestry of culture and tradition. Approach them with understanding and empathy, recognizing the beauty in diversity and the power of listening with intent.

hiy hiy


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