I want to talk about about something I desire to bring more of into this year. Something that at first seems so simple but that upon further inspection really takes some desire to "perfect". Something that although I exercise this muscle quite often, I must still always work on it. And something that I feel is one of the greatest gifts you can give another. And that is to truly listen when someone else is talking.
We have all heard about it. Some practice it, some don't. But it's worth really thinking about how good it feels to have someone truly listen to you.
It's pretty easy to tell when someone isn't really listening to us. Most people are not skilled in the art of listening. In public, many have their ears open to the other conversations going on around them, and you cannot truly listen to someone when you do that. A number of us, our brains moving a mile a minute, can't wait till the person speaking to us pauses so we can get in what we want to say. I am guilty of that sometimes. I think most of us are. But I know how dejected I feel when I am speaking and and I can see in someone's eyes that their mind is somewhere else.
Think about being in a group setting when you are trying to tell a story and how comments get interjected or jokes abound. Comes with the territory I suppose. And I am guilty of interrupting people's stories as well.
From being on each side, as the speaker or the listener, I can understand both the desire to truly be heard and the impulse to interject and comment on what people are saying.
But as a coach, I have put a lot of energy into being completely present and really listening to what my clients are saying. It takes not only focus, but also desire. The desire to truly hear where someone is coming from. We cannot profess to even remotely understand where someone is coming from if we are not present and really hearing them. If our minds are focused on our own opinions and judgments the whole time someone else is speaking then again, we are not really listening.
Of course we are going to listen from our perspective just like we see things from our perspective. But there is a lot of in between when we can try to make our ears and our minds as fresh and new as possible so we can hear from the other person's perspective.
It really is a gift to just listen when someone is speaking. I am always immensely grateful when I feel I have been heard. When we really listen to others, what we are saying is that we care. We really care. And the more deeply we listen the more deeply we demonstrate that care.
Again, it takes practice. As a coach, my listening skills are much sharper than when I first started out. And for that hour I am in a session with a client, they have my all. I listen with my heart so that that is the space from where my responses spring. When I listen with my head, the responses tend to be more about me and what I think would be best. When alas my client knows them self best.
I can tell the difference in the way I listen in my personal life. It's not quite to the same level as when I am in a coaching session. And it's that level of listening that I want to bring into this year.
Every day quick stories and things like that are easy for us to listen to most of the time. And listening to longer, perhaps more serious issues from folks can help us to practice really listening. But it's those deeper, more difficult conversations I want to practice better listening on. And that will often mean leaving my own agenda at the door.
But what a gift!!! To give someone all the space they need to express them self without fear of reproach or disengagement from the other person. To stop and really listen with an open heart and open mind. That is true listening.
Listening is not just paying attention to what someone is saying long enough so that your mind didn't wander while you wait for when you can begin to speak. Listening is a spiritual process because when you listen from your spirit, from a space of love and caring and true INTEREST in what someone else is saying, then you also reap the benefits of your own personal growth and expansion.. And that type of listening will serve both party's highest good.
Heather O'Neill, LOACC, is a personal life coach and can be contacted at via heatheroneillcoaching.com for a complimentary consultation.