ARE YOU A GOOD LISTENER?
Are you able to listen without the need to fix?
Is it hard to give undivided attention and not be checking your phone, or reading emails, or thinking about a deadline?
How about the ability to shift your posture towards the speaker to show respect?
If you want a better bottom line, healthier relationships, more satisfaction with life, learn to listen. Good listening is a skill requiring ongoing development.
Everyone wants to be heard. Someone genuinely listening is showing they value and respect the one talking. When we are heard, we are more engaged and energized to accomplish the task at hand. Feeling appreciated makes for a happier human being. A happier human being is more productive and more creative.
When we are not heard, or feel brushed off, or are competing with a TV, or any other device or project, anger and frustration tag team to make their voice known. They may try to go undercover, but they are there. The first thing the menacing duo accomplish is to lower our level which brings out the worst in us and when that happens everyone pays. Feeling drained and undervalued does not do much for the bottom line.
Listening demands for us to shift gears, to slow down, to stop, and hit the reset button. We have to put down the have-to-get-it-done attention grabber we’re in the middle of and pay attention. Our brilliant mind screams in our ear, “YOU HAVE TOO MUCH TO DO. MULTITASK. LISTEN AND CARRY ON.” Don’t do it. That form of listening is not listening, it’s disrespectful.
When our personal agendas and judgments are put outside the room compassion shows up. When compassion enters the room a safe space is created where reenergizing can occur. With emotions tended to a sense of calm returns.
Caring is felt. Giving someone our attention is an energy booster. The one we’re listening to doesn’t want our brilliant wisdom, or to be fixed, only to be heard. In a safe space pent up emotion is able to pass through instead of getting stuck. Stuck emotions build up, and build up, until we feel like we’re going to explode.
A good listener doesn’t retaliate, or get emotionally charged by the speaker. When the body is heard peace returns. Feeling more at peace we are better able to have a conversation, to discuss differences, and come to a solution.
Remember, as a listener, we don’t have to have the right words, only a caring presence, and the ability to sit in uncomfortable silence. Uncomfortable silence is another thing we need to listen to. It is actually the place where the speaker reaches deep inside to access their own truth, their own understanding, their own wisdom. It seems crazy at times, like why didn’t they know the answer all along, but as the story goes pent up frustration clogs the pathway to inner wisdom.
Allowing someone to express themselves while listening compassionately serves not only the person, but every other relationship in their life. When we are calm, we are more peaceful, we are kinder. At the end of the conversation where we compassionately listen, the speaker feels good, and so do we. We know we did something good and that feels great.
Here are some easy steps to start being a good listener.
•Stop – whatever you’re doing.
•Breathe – with a deep breath you will clear your mind.
•Connect – offer kind eyes, and an easy posture, it shows caring and respect.
Things to remember:
- Less is more. The less talking you do the better it is for the other person. Zip it is my mantra to myself.
•Don’t get defensive. This isn’t the right time. There will be a time to make your point, but the time isn’t now. The speaker won’t hear you.
•Don’t challenge. This isn’t about you, it’s about them. Go back to less is more.
•Be willing to sit in uncomfortable silence while the speaker gathers their thoughts. This gives them time to access their own wisdom.
•Acknowledge the feelings of the speaker. This shows you’ve heard them.
•Repeat back what you hear, not what you think.
Being trusted with someone’s emotions is an honor. Before the conversation gets going check in with yourself, am I in a good place to give this person my full attention? If not it’s better to let them know than trying to fake it. Acknowledge the importance of the conversation and give them a time when you can listen.
We know when someone is not listening. Body language is a dead giveaway. Be honest. Tell them the truth. For example, “I really want to give you my full attention, because I do want to hear you, but right now I can’t give you the attention you deserve. How about in an hour? Will that work?”
People feel our words, and feel the tone of our silence. Be present.
Reflect on this quote from, “Plain Living: A Quaker Path to Simplicity.” By Catherine Whitmire.
“We are not called to conform to the ways of the world, but to the motions of love that rise in our hearts. It takes courage to align our personal lives, our work, and the way we spend our days with what we hear when we listen within.” The author also says, “The integrity we are seeking lies within the sanctum of our individual and corporate souls. It is there we must struggle with moral complexity and the consequences of the values we adopt. Plain living is about trusting the place the words come from and aligning our lives and our integrity accordingly.”
The menacing duo, anger and frustration, aren’t really that menacing. They aren’t bad guys. They happen to be parts of us trying to get our attention. They want to be heard. Anger can flare in a second when we don’t feel heard. We end up saying things we don’t mean. Sarcasm rules the roost. Rolling of the eyes, turning our body away from the person, the list goes on are ways anger and frustration beg for us to speak up and find someone to listen.
– Sandy Powers, Life Coach Mindful Healing Junction