Check out this month’s article in The Fishbowl Magazine!
Let’s Talk About Listening
One of the biggest challenges in any relationship is that of establishing effective communication. It’s easy to get fired-up about getting our own point across, but it can sometimes be challenging to hear another’s position with equal enthusiasm.
The most important skill we can master in the art of listening is the ability to let go of the need to defend, explain, retaliate or reply. For truly effective communication to occur, we must listen sincerely, and with a deep desire to understand.
This isn’t always easy, especially when the topic at hand is one we have strong feelings about. But when we listen with genuine care and curiosity, some truly magical things start to happen:
1. Arguing stops. Seriously. As soon as we release our positions as oppositional forces, we open the door to cooperation, ease, and understanding.
2. Connections are made. When people feel safe, heard, and understood, we open, expand, and connect.
3. Understanding unfolds. When we listen from a place of genuine caring for another, we tap into our own compassion. Compassion is the birthplace of understanding.
4. Solutions are discovered. Letting go of our default ideas and positions makes room for creative solutions and new perspectives.
5. We learn and grow. Opening to ideas and concepts we may not yet have considered creates space for new possibilities.
SO, HOW DO WE DO IT?
Start by being aware of your own biases, agendas, opinions, and reactions – then temporarily let them go. It is totally safe to do this. Your self-concept will still be there when you are finished listening.
Connect wholeheartedly with the person you are communicating with. Allow yourself to become genuinely curious about what they have to say. Remember that you can consider their perspective without having to adopt it as your own.
Make learning and understanding your goal. If you are listening effectively, you may find yourself discovering meaningful insights you didn’t previously have.
Practice active, engaged quietude. If you are interrupting…. if you are planning what you are going to say next… if you are arguing in your mind… if you are talking… if you are rolling your eyes, huffing, shaking your head… you are not listening. Give the other person the floor completely. Quiet your mind. Focus on honestly hearing and understanding what they are trying to communicate. Be fully present with them and their experience.
Be kind. Remember – whoever you are listening to wants to be seen, heard, honoured, and respected – just like you. Whatever their position, they are committed to it just as strongly as you are to yours, and with reasons just as good.
Be the type of listener you wish others would be for you. Ask yourself “If I was speaking, what would make me feel heard?” Then, do that.
“For a word to be spoken, there must be silence. Before, and after.” -Ursula K. Le Guin
The Fishbowl is Salt Spring Island’s free monthly Art’s, Entertainment, and Culture magazine. We feature event listings, local writers, and are dedicated to providing locals and tourists with what’s happening “on the rock”. Voted ‘2013 Small Business of The Year!’ Visit: www.FishBowlMagazine.com