From Bothersome Noise to Soothing Sound

This wooden gate is right outside my home office window, and opens to the slim side yard of a house now on sale. The selling price for the house was drastically reduced recently, another victim to the housing crunch, and there has been a steady stream of would-be buyers coming by all week.

Photo Library: Ho‘ohana Publishing ©.
See my Flickr page for other CC-licensed photos.

The noise of the wooden gate rattling back and forth (with the occasional resounding slam!) was driving me crazy at first, noise often accompanied by chattering voices, some without a clue that I can hear them talking to each other as they “wonder what the neighbors are like here?”

I don’t feel like I’m eavesdropping, for if they bother to look up just a little bit they’ll see my window, and perhaps see me working at my desk. (I took the shot above from my window sill.)

I have noticed that kids are the ones who will sometimes look up, and wave silently to me as their parents peer into the house’s unshuttered windows, oblivious to me waving back at their children. The children smile at me, but quietly, seeming to enjoy knowing we now share a secret.

Why, hello!

More people have come by, and the gate continues to rattle. However yesterday something happened which shifted my feelings about those sounds drifting up and through my window screen. Two somethings actually; two different conversations.

The bothersome noise of the gate’s rattling has now brought a kind of aliveness and comfort to it. It no longer means gate in dire need of fixing, it means people. Neighbors.

The house has been vacant for a bit too long; a shell for almost three months now, and it will be nice to have neighbors bring it back to life. I am getting a bit weary of watching and listening to the strangers parade by, even those with their enchanting children.

My attitude shifted after an elderly woman noticed my window and sang out her hello to me, for as I said, you can see inside my window if you try to look.

We didn’t have a conversation, for after I responded with my own “aloha, how are you today?” she said, “Oh I am very well thank you, but I can see you are working, and will look around more quietly. Have a good day.”

Noisy or Comforting?

She was quiet as promised, but I didn’t go back to work just yet.

When I turned back to my desk I glanced over at the telephone I have there, and remembered an earlier conversation I’d had with one of my coaching clients. He had been quite bothered by the radical drop in his business levels through multiple revenue streams, for his industry is one hit hard by the skyrocketing fuel and transportation costs now skewering many Hawai‘i businesses. He had told me, “Rosa, I’d give anything for the phone to start ringing again.” He fears he may have to lay off a few of his staff, and he is searching for every possible way he can avoid doing so.

My response was that I should probably be his first casualty, and that if he had to put his coaching on hold for a while I would understand; the coaching we have done so far gives him much to keep working on.

Noise or comfort is truly a matter of perspective isn’t it. Taking some time to focus on those noises that are presently your irritations can reveal other sounds within them, sounds which may be soothing, affirming indicators of another kind of richness and good fortune. It is looking for your half-fulls, and not at your half-empties.

We are often coached to think of complaints like this, and with good reason. There is often a goldmine of opportunity in a complaint; the chance to convert a disgruntled customer into a loyal one, one who believes in you and the values you have demonstrated to them.

What other examples (similar to business complaints) can you think of?

Are there specific noises which may be bugging you right now? Is there any trace of soothing comfort in them you can focus on instead?


Two more thoughts:

As I wrote this, I thought back to two other recent postings, both
for different reasons! One I wrote for MWAC during May when we studied
Ha‘aha‘a, the Hawaiian value of humility, and one was written by John
for Joyful Jubilant Learning and our movie theme in May. I
think you will enjoy them both if you have a bit more reading time:

  1.  What can a Humble Wave do for you?
  2. The Master of Suspense