I pay close attention to when listening is more important than being heard,
Of all the opportunities we have to learn about ourselves and others- Listening is probably the greatest of them all.
Can you listen in such a way that the person speaking really feels like you “get them”? That you were with them through the entire conversation- not caught up in what amazing response or advise you might give them, not agreeing or disagreeing, or finding some commonality so that you can relate. Can you listen without checking your FB, twitter or snap? Can you just BE PRESENT for the person sitting in front of you?
Each of us tend to listen with our strongly held positions, views, opinions, judgments and justifications without really ever being fully available to explore and discover. Any time that we have the idea or thought that “I already know what you’re going to say” – we have diminished the opportunity to understand and engage in “Authentic Listening”.
When we assume, draw conclusions, worry, disapprove or judge we miss the experience of truly being able to leave someone feeling as though we really “get them”. – and any time we enter a conversation thinking that we have someone else’s answers, or that it is our job to solve their problem(s)… we are off track with the gift of authentic listening.
What it would look like if we went in to every conversation assuming that we have something to learn? What if we asked open ended question and really practiced the idea of “seek first to understand”. Can you imagine what might feel like for someone to open up and share if they did not think they would be judged or condemned. What if you offered a space of trust and acceptance for whatever might be said? We couldn’t even begin to know the blessing of what it might be like for another person to share their most intimate and vulnerable feelings – to BE the presence of love for another is one of the most generous and selfless gifts we have to offer.
The opportunity here is not only in paying attention to how we show up as a listener with others, but also to recognize traits within ourselves. How do I communicate with others? Am I the one who dominates every conversation? Do I always with something to say?
Am I talking without any regard for others? Am I the wall-flower who is just about invisible with nothing to say? Do I have to argue to get my point across, do others want to talk with me? There is no right or wrong answer. Its just an opportunity to recognize, to pay attention and do ask myself if how I am showing up is in alignment with the greater vision I have for my life?
Who in your life needs you to listen? This week, decide to be thoughtful in the way that you will listen. Approach each interaction and conversation with the thought that you have something to learn or gain from listening authentically. Seek first to understand, whether it’s a conversation with you friend, co-worker, spouse or child. Decide today to be authentic and to accept everyone for who they are and where they are. Turn the radio down, turn the tv off, put your phone away- grab a glass of wine or orange juice and a comfy pair of socks, get cozy and just decide to connect with someone in a beautiful and powerful way. It really is that simple.