5 ways to improve your listening
During my career as a transformational life & business coach and , speaker, facilitator and trainer, I've noticed that one of the most important variables that determines how much TRANSFORMATION and IMPACT my clients experience is my ability, and also my client's ability to LISTEN.
When I talk about listening I'm not just talking about being able to recite back a list of memorised facts or figures from a conversation. It so much more than that...
Listening is our ability to be fully present to what someone is truly sharing. This is the space of quietness, curiosity, and receptivity to perceive what is actually being communicated by someone, without inner dialogue, planning what we're going to say next, and not making premature conclusions that shut down our receptivity before others have finished speaking. In order to listen deeply, we need to suspend our thinking whilst someone else is speaking.
When you can truly listen to someone, here is the chain of events that unfold. Listening is actually a process that goes like this...
THE LISTENING PROCESS:
Being Curious -> Deep Presence -> -> Increasing Awareness -> Feel Empathy -> Compassion for them -> Connection to them -> Learning about them -> Understanding Them -> Discovering Wisdom -> Knowing how to respond with what's valuable -> Asking them questions -> Deeper Connection -> Sharing from a deeper place -> Leads to Impact and Transformation -> Then the cycle repeats with Being Curious -> and so on....
Here are 5 ways to improve your listening.
1. GURU LIKE LISTENING
If you were listening to the world's best guru, notice how attentive and present you would be in the conversation. Imagine how much valuable wisdom you'd be absorbing. Start by assuming you know nothing about the other person and realise you're the one with everything to learn about them. Treat them like a guru in everything they are sharing.
Check-in Question: Am I treating this person like a guru?
2. BE CARING
Care so much about receiving the person's message that they feel like you are the most caring person in the world and you truly 'GET' them. This alone will be transformational for them.
Check-in Question: 'Does this person feel like "you really get me" '?
3. SUSPEND YOUR THOUGHTS
If you are thinking while they are still speaking, you are not really listening to them, you are simply talking to yourself in your head, and planning a reply because you have already assumed you know everything they are going to say. Suspend all your thoughts and internal dialogue so that you fully allow yourself to absorb their message, before deciding what to share in response. This slows down the conversation and requires practice at first, but is well worth it in the long run!
Check-in Question: 'How quiet and still is my mind while they are talking'?
4. LISTEN FOR THE FEELING THEY'RE IN
Listen beyond just the content of the words or facts, and sense the essential feeling or 'atmosphere' that they are sharing with. This allows you to pick up on the fundamental attitude they have towards what they are sharing. Often the content is not important, but rather how they feel about the content.
Check-in Question: 'How does this person feel towards what they are sharing'?
5. WAIT FOR THEM TO FINISH
Usually, after someone finishes speaking, they will have more to say, but the person listening is innocently eager to reply, so the speaker is interrupted from completing their full message. When the other person stops talking, allow a few seconds to pause to reflect which allows you time to consider what you want to share. This also allows them to feel comfortable sharing more. Often, while you're pausing to reflect they will feel like sharing more with you. This allows for a deeper conversation to occur and you'll find people feel more connected to you and they'll open up even more.
Check-in Question: 'How patient have I been in allowing them to finish what they are saying?'
Play around with these listening tips and you'll notice that you'll get so much more connection, transformation and value not just in your professional life, but in your personal life too!