A much overlooked part of conversation is the ability to listen. We often believe that hearing is the same as listening. The two are not the same. Nothing is more difficult than really listening. Listening requires you to be aware and conscious. It is active, not passive.
When you actively listen, you absorb more than just the words. You actually feel the other person.
Most communication involves trying to make a point. The listener is most often thinking about their response. It can be difficult to hear what someone is saying if we already have an agenda about how we intend to respond. As a result, we really don’t absorb what we could. Instead we are waiting for the other person to finish so we can take our turn in talking. If you are always waiting for your queue to talk, you simply won’t be listening.
Listening takes place in the now. Being present is absolutely necessary in order to hear what the other person is saying. Listening requires to be open to hearing and feeling another person, dropping your agenda and forgetting for the time being what you want to say.
If your goal is to make a point and for it to be right, it will be impossible to listen. Listening shouldn’t have a goal. Active listening requires you to find out something new about the other person and then process that information. In the process you may learn something about yourself.
Discovery is often a result of connecting and when you truly listen, you allow yourself to connect. Even when you disagree, it still feels good to listen. When we put our ego aside, something visceral happens. We are surrendering to the moment and allowing ourselves to truly hear the other person. To actively listen is one of the most loving things you can do.
Do you know how to listen? Practice with small baby steps every day.