The fine art of listening

THINK BACK… to the last time someone really listened to you.
I mean really listened. For more than a few minutes. Without interrupting. Listening with all their being, until you’d actually finished your train of thought, and in some cases even your whole sentence? Fully present – not while driving, washing up, unpacking the shopping, half an eye on the footy/SATC re-runs; their attention clearly elsewhere. Listening until you came to a natural pause; a complete conclusion?

Not easy, eh? Most of us cannot wait to jump in, proffer our own opinion and then, with any luck completely take over the conversation. Why is listening so difficult?
For those of you who can remember what it feels like to be truly seen and heard – you’ll know what an exquisite feeling it is. Sometimes we don’t want advice or an opinion, we just want someone to be a sounding board; to listen to us. Without judgment and preferably in silence.

Next time you speak with a friend or colleague, make a conscious decision not to interrupt for at least a few minutes. You may get an anxious: “why have you gone quiet?” but if you tell the other person you are, in fact, listening to them, unless they’ve keeled over in shock, they’ll feel sufficiently respected to continue, perhaps at an even deeper level. And trust, me, they won’t forget the full attention you’ve given them!

If you’re lucky to have a good friend, family member or colleague who is happy to give you their silent, undivided attention, then you’re very well blessed! Go give ‘em a big hug…

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