“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” – Bryant H. McGill
As spring finally arrives I am reminded of the importance of listening, deep listening, the kind of listening that awakens your soul.
Even though it’s still a little chilly in my neck of the woods, most mornings I put on my winter coat, grab my coffee and head outside before the sun comes up. The dogs and I silently listen to the beautiful sounds of the birds as they wake up, singing their morning song. I know they are speaking to me, telling me to embrace the day with love and gratitude.
As humans, we tend to get so caught up in our “own minds” that we don’t always take the time to deeply listen to another soul. Being present, with an open ear, is one of the greatest gifts you can give to another being.
For years my husband and I have been following the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, who offers a simple yet profound way of being present in the world, with mindfulness, meditation and deep listening. When we began the process we realized that we really didn’t listen deeply. We realized that many times we were, in essence, pretending to listen, with simple responses like, “oh, wow, and uh-huh”.
Listening is a skill that can be learned, and “good-listening” will enhance the quality of every relationship, whether personal or professional; your loved ones will realize that you really care and your clients/customers will appreciate that you actually pay attention to their wants and needs. Think about how you like to be treated and you’ll know that this feels true.
How do you practice deep listening? Here are 10 tips to begin:
- Set the intention to listen deeply, include listening to yourself
- Be sure to allow enough time for the conversations you share – remember it’s a conversation and allow ample time for BOTH parties to converse
- Be present – keep yourself tuned in to the moment
- Minimize outside distractions – turn your phones off
- Focus on what they are saying
- Don’t think about what YOU want to say
- Ask questions, the basics: who, what, where, why, when and how
- When you ask a question, be patient for the response. Don’t anticipate what you think the response will be
- Don’t give advice unless you are asked
- Notice how you feel when others offer deep listening to you.
Every day I catch myself not practicing these suggestions (a few years ago, I wouldn’t have) especially number 9, particularly when I’m talking with my adult children. It’s my nature to want to solve their problems and see them shine. Simply being aware of the moment that you really need to “be present” in a conversation is a great way to begin.
“I am determined to practice deep listening. I am determined to practice loving speech.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
For more information on how you can incorporate meditation into your life and practice Soulcial Living, visit the resources page at TeriGriffinWilliams.com