Today I read a short article on the value of good listening skills which included this bit: Have you ever noticed that LISTEN and SILENT are formed from the same letters?
WOW! I hadn’t. Yet, real listening asks us to put a hold on speaking, to be silent and really hear what the other has to say, without interrupting to express an idea, ask a question, give advice.
How silent is your listening?
Let’s go a bit deeper. Good listening asks far more than a quiet mouth. It demands a quiet and open mind and heart. It asks us to hear without judgment, without searching our memory banks for related messages and planning our response. Listening which gifts the speaker pays attention to what is spoken – and not. It “hears” body language and emotion. It invites the listener to empathize, to experience with the speaker in order to fully grasp what is being communicated.
Today, pay attention to your listening. Notice what gets in your way. Is it:
Planning your next response?
Depending on your answers, consider a practice for the next week or two which would enhance your listening. Options include:
- Choose a person or conversation to be wholly attentive in. Then be that.
- Share your desire with a friend and then ask them to tell you of a personal experience as you practice becoming one with their experience.
- Set an intention to bite your tongue each time you have the urge to interrupt.
- “Out yourself”! In conversation (perhaps with a few folks you know well), whenever your mind wanders, interrupt merely to say, “I’m sorry but I left you. My mind wandered. Would you please repeat from …?” Apologizing for mistakes can be a very quick way for them to cease!
- Select a few folks in your circle that you listen to a lot. Then, listen for their listening skills, not to pass judgment, but to learn. What does good listening feel like? Poor listening?
After a few weeks of practice, ask yourself again:
How silent is my listening?
And perhaps, ask those who have benefited from your new listening practice:
What is the impact on you?
What else would you suggest for me?