I hear you RD, and I thank you for bringing up this very important topic. I too have noticed what you describe, and as a strong advocate of good listening, I’d be happy to share a few suggestions that you can put to use right away.
Listening is so important! It’s one of our most vital senses! Yet, ‘half listening’ or ‘distracted listening’ is what many of us experience and practice much of the time. And when we do listen to another person, we’re often focusing not so much on what they’re feeling, but on how what they’re saying relates to our own experiences!
What if you knew that listening, pure listening, is one of the most powerful forms of emotional healing? And that by simply listening to someone, in an attentive and caring way, you are giving them a great gift. And that often, when we are heard like this, we are able to access our own deeper levels of healing, inner wisdom, and the clarity we seek.
Begin to practice fully listening – fully listening to others, and fully listening to yourself.
With care and respect, listen to the person who is speaking and seeking to be heard. Give them your full attention. Listen for content and meaning. Listen for what they are experiencing, feeling, and needing you to hear.
Quietly and without interruption, give this person space to express what he or she needs to share. Just listen.
If you find your attention going inward to a similar or related experience of your own, silently acknowledge it, and then put your attention back on the person who is sharing, and listen!
If you need clarity on what the person is saying, it's okay to ask questions. This is also referred to as perception checking and is a very good way to ensure that you truly understand what is being said. It also reinforces the trust and increases rapport because they feel heard and valuable.
If they ask for advice, offer your inspired and supportive insights, but resist giving too much advice. Instead, you might "mirror" the ideas and answers you heard them discover, and ask them if that sounds accurate. Unless the person sharing requests it, resist giving advice, even if you're sure you have the answers! By simply listening, you'll allow the person who's sharing to access their own inner wisdom and answers.
Honor Thy Self!
The golden rule: Be selective about what you share, when and where you share it, and with whom you share it.
Don’t talk about important stuff when you’re hurrying somewhere, or where it’s noisy and distracting, or when you’re doing another task at the same time.
If someone asks you to share something with them, but you really don’t think they’re fully listening, tell them you’d love to share with them once you’re sitting down together in a quiet spot and can really talk. For example, when someone asked me in a noisy public place to tell them all about my recent vision fast in the desert, I told them I’d love to do it over a quiet lunch sometime, but not there.
Honor your expressions and the expressions of others! You’ll respect yourself more for it, and others will too!
Listening is Healing!
RD, I hope these are useful suggestions. We don’t have control of the way others communicate, but we do have control over the way we communicate with and listen to others. Listen to yourself, and be mindful of listening to others. Let distractions inspire you to listen more fully. Expect to be awed by the clarity and wisdom that comes forward when you fully listen or are listened to. As Gandhi so wisely stated, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Your Life Coach,
Copyright 2011 Maddisen K. Krown M.A.