Listening, really present, deep listening is a gift that many of us never really receive. Think about it: when was the last time that you shared with another person or group and did not experience interruptions, fixing, opinions or “I know what you should do!”?
If you’ve had the gift of being listened to deeply, what was that like? What do you notice when you are able to share who you are and what is important to you in the moment and simply be heard?
How about your listening skills? When a colleague or employee or family member approaches you with a need to talk about a situation, are you able to be open and listen? Or are you the one who listens on one track and composes your response on another?
Deep listening is an art; it is also a skill that anyone can learn. Yet it requires much practice in many different situations in order to perfect it.
Just how do the really great listeners listen?
Jana Stanfield shares some thoughts in her song, “If You’ll Just Listen To Me”:
If you are new to deep listening, consider these four simple steps as a starting point:
- temporarily suspend your assumptions, viewpoints, biases, opinions of the person and the topic
- open up, and stay open, in order to hear and take in what is being shared
- ask questions from genuine curiosity to gain understanding and to clarify the others’ points
- before offering feedback or advice, ask if it is wanted!
You may find these steps impossible. Your mind may wander, latch onto opinions and judgments, go back to composing your responses. If this is your experience, consider adding a mindfulness practice (*) to your daily routines. Mindful awareness, the ability to be focused and tuned in to this moment, is the gift of such a practice. And from 100% presence, true connection, deep listening, is possible.
What power will you experience from deeper listening?
(*) Joy Jordan, Mindfulness Teacher, offers in-person training in the workplace, on-line articles and classes, and one-on-one sessions. Read more about Joy’s work HERE.