How many people do you have in your life who truly listen to you? Listen fully, without judgment and even help you hear yourself better? Probably not very many… As I’ve asked this question in workshops over the years, rarely can people name more than three or four people who hold this kind of place for them. A good listener is a rare gift!
Looking for ways to become a better listener involves both skills (head) and attitude (heart). When attitude shifts from “me” to “we” it opens more opportunities to become really present with what’ s going on in the conversation. When we shift, we become more curious about what is being said and hear the underlying messages. Responding to the message shows how we have listened by genuine understanding.
Ironically, being a good listener involves speaking. Asking thoughtful questions to spark reflection, using clarifying questions to refine and narrow, and asking permission to frame context and show respect are ways to guide the conversation so you can hold an open space for others. Additionally, making room for silence in dialogue can be a powerful opener and be the invitation others need for new insight and thinking.
What could you do differently with your listening? Could a shift come from your head or heart? Who can you listen to today? How could the relationship grow from your presence?