As I reflect on the Art of Listening, I am drawn to remember those times when I felt really deeply heard and seen. Those magical moments when the other person gave me the gift of his or her presence and deep attention – without agenda.
Those moments create an unfolding within us – a sense of safety and compassion that means we can unfold a little more of who we are, and find the courage to be seen a little more….
In the personal development journey, there comes a time when we are ready to reveal ourselves a little more, to step more fully into our truth and speak that truth as we feel it.
Being heard with that truth without judgement or agenda is absolutely golden.
And so, what does it take to listen well?
In a few words – presence, openness, attention, lack of judgement and the willingness to be curious. There are many more, but these are essential qualities if we want to offer others the gift of deep listening.
In our digital world, with so many distractions and sound bytes, our attention span is actually getting shorter. Our brains are changing. We are more able to pay a little attention to a lot of things, but less able to pay attention to just one thing.
Some sort of mind-focusing daily practice is essential if we want to listen well. But also, developing the qualities of presence, curiosity and openness come through practice too.
Once we realise the benefits of listening well and are cultivating the skills needed through daily practice, we firstly need to consciously intend to listen well.
Then we can begin to notice those times that we are listening to someone, yet are aware of some kind of agenda running in our heads. Perhaps we want the person to buy something, or do something for us. Perhaps we want to control the actions of this person in some way, or we are thinking about how to respond so as to appear knowledgeable, or wise, or like we know how to fix it.
Running an agenda takes us away from curiosity, presence and openness.
The other thing you may notice is how there is only part of you in the conversation because you are aware of how little time you have to get a lot of things done. Or how that person reminds you of your mother/father/sister/brother…
Like agenda, this ‘part attention’ takes us away from listening fully.
The magic of the listening space is worth the energy needed to cultivate it. The gift is to allow the other person the space to reveal more of themselves – more of their thoughts, their feelings and their truths.
And, if any of you have had moments of giving this gift to another, you will also know that the magic occurs within the listener, too. In that shared moment, connection, empathy and trust grow.
The possibility of transformation is in this moment – of the relationship, the business, the family, the community and within yourself.