The Art of Listening II

When someone talks to you, what are you doing? Eyes darting around the room making sure you’re not missing something? Thinking about your answer to that person’s comments? Remembering something you have to do when the person finishes speaking? This behavior is commonplace in our daily conversations, but is that truly listening?

Our society has been conditioned to multi-task and produce, with the understanding it’s good to squeeze as much in twenty-four hours as is possible. Such quick-paced thinking often keeps our minds scattered and continually moving, which frequently gives rise to the incomplete, half-hearted listening effort we put into conversations.

Have you ever started answering someone before they’ve finished talking yet discover, once they’ve completed their thought, your answer wasn’t even relevant? We’ve probably all been there, feeling a little silly or embarrassed.

True listening is indeed an art, for when you give undivided attention to what another person is saying, not only do you really hear them, but you are showing honor and respect to them. Essentially you are validating their worthiness for your attention as well as honoring the light of God within them. And when you listen fully, you are connecting with their spirit.

Most individuals never think of this when speaking with someone, so it takes an internal shift along with a conscious effort into realizing the value of every person who crosses your path every day and honoring every conversation you experience. So often we are completely wrapped up in ourselves in any given moment, but if we shift our focus to the other person in a conversation, we totally engage in that moment.

When fully present and engaged in a conversation, you will hear the other person’s thoughts more clearly and what they are truly saying. When fully engaged, you will be able to read between the lines and hear deeper truths you wouldn’t otherwise grasp. This is invaluable for many vocations, and certainly is for a coach. But beyond that, it is a vital skill in any conversation between two people. Just think how much better any conversation would be with your children, spouses, parents and friends if you were totally listening to their every word before you even thought of a response.

Listening requires a total absorption in another person and what they are sharing, so much so that you are unaware of what is happening in the same room. This is being totally present in the moment. As a multi-tasking mother of five, I thought I was good at listening. Later in my life however, I came to understand the value and purpose of attentive listening, and retrained myself to the art of patiently and attentively listening to every conversation before responding. This has reaped rewarding outcomes in my conversations, and is an art worth embracing at any time. Every human being wants to feel valued, and giving them your undivided attention, even if just for a few moments, validates their incredible worth, and warms their heart!

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