How well do you listen?
How much space and presence to you bring to your listening? We may tell ourselves that people don’t really notice if our listening is a high quality one – but let’s check it out. Do you notice when you’re being listened to? My guess is you are absolutely clear when someone is fully with you, and when they’re even slightly checked out. We may dismiss it, but it matters.
Almost everyone I know realizes that there is room for improvement in their listening skills. Having the intention is half the battle, but some key pointers can help bring power to your intention.
Bring Yourself Fully to the Listening:
When someone is speaking to you, make a decision to be there with them. Not thinking about what you forgot to do that morning, some unresolved issue that is unrelated to this person or moment in time, what you’re going to make for dinner, where you’re going on holidays next summer, something across the room that’s catching your attention. And do I even need to say cell phone? Be here. Now.
Clear Your Mind and Get Curious:
Even when we’re fully present, we’re often busy formulating opinions, assessing whether the speaker’s thoughts are aligned with or contrary to ours, planning a response, likening it to our own experience. When we do this, the focus is still on us, not the other person. Instead, bring an open-hearted curiosity to who this person is, and what it is that they’re really saying – instead of your idea about it.
Be Spacious in Your Listening:
One of the best things I learned in my coach training was to ‘leave one moment longer’ before responding. When you have asked a thought provoking question, or someone has said something that feels important, instead of rushing in to fill the space – hold it in silence a loving heartbeat or two longer. That space is where the speaker understands they are truly being listened to. It’s a precious gift that we have the opportunity to give everyday in our lives.
Here’s a little challenge: Bring this kind of listening to 3 conversations in your life in the next week, and notice what happens. If you want to share any glimmers of insight from the experience, please leave a comment back here.
Good to ponder:
“Most people do not listen with the intent to learn and understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak.” – Stephen Covey