Are You An Active Listener?
Why is active listening important ?
Active, or deep, Listening is the key to having a profound understanding of your correspondent and their deepest truths, challenges, pains, and aspirations.
Thich Nhat Hanh said “If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence. How can you love, if you are not even there?”
Not everyone is an active listener though…most people listen with their ears only, and not their hearts
In all relationships, both personal and professional, communication is key
Very often, it is not what people say to us but they way they say it: their intonation, body language and emotional presence.
When you are able to deeply listen, your own “monkey mind” goes quiet.
Your own thoughts fade away.
You just hear and absorb what the person is saying without attaching your bias to it.
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Why is the skill of being an active listener so important to your relationships?
Because this way the person you are communicating with feels heard , and being heard is the experience of being acknowledged, respected, and accepted.
When you listen actively to what the other person is saying you are able to understand what they are telling you without referring to your own experience or bias.
Remember, it is about their experience, and not yours.
More often than not, the people we are talking to desire to share what’s going on with them, without necessarily looking for advice.
Sharing is Caring.Tweet
Here are two exercises that teaches you how to practice listening without the desire to affect or respond to what the other person has to say – JUST LISTENING.
EXERCISE 1: MIRROR LISTENING
Mirror Listening is a technique to help you stay focused and “tuned in” when listening to other people. When you do mirror listening, you’ll be able to be present in the moment and tune out the distractions around you, as well as the distracting thoughts and feelings within.
To get started with mirror listening, start by choosing a youtube video or a talk radio show program.
(1) Choose one person’s voice and start whispering the speaker’s words at the same time the speaker says them. (So that you are mirroring, not repeating after them.) Mirror everything they say, word-for-word.
(2) After you get the first part down, try leaving out the sound. Just move your mouth, mirroring the words at the same time they are being said.
(3) Finally, mirror the words in your mind only. You’ll hear in your mind how your thoughts mirror what is being said, word-for-word, without spoken sound or physical movement.
Give this exercise some time, as it will take practice and effort.
One last thing – after you practice the exercise above, try mirror listening with an actual person with whom you are having a conversation. Notice the difference.
Here’s a practical way to use this exercise in the “real world.”
When you are talking with someone and your mind starts to wander off or get distracted, try mirror listening for 20 or 30 seconds, and watch how you tune right back to the speaker.
EXERCISE 2: DYAD LISTENING
Dyads are structured listening exercises between people working in pairs.
Dyads are an exceptionally deep and safe method of communication that fosters trust, honesty, and connection between people.
This is largely due to the strength of the listening role.
The basic premise of dyad work is that communication between any two people can be incredibly powerful and healing, and can be used for transformational purposes.
During a dyad, the person listening is attentive to what their partner is communicating while remaining almost completely silent. The listener does not respond or react to what their partner says, either through comments or non-verbal cues such as smiling or nodding.
Sit down with a partner at a comfortable distance apart, facing each other. You can sit on chairs or sit on cushions on the floor.
The partners should be at the same height though.
Sit with your back straight and with your head balanced above your spine. Keep your body relaxed and your breathing free and easy.
Listening partner’s role:
- · Keep attention on the speaking partner
- · Listen to what the other says
- · Don’t interrupt the other
- · Make no critical judgments of the other
- · Don`t make assumptions, just listen
- · Abstain from giving unsolicited advice
- · Remember that it is not about you, but about them
- · Even if you are not sure what to say, be emotionally present
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