Do you listen with all your being?
For many years I felt considerable frustration when important people in my life chose to ignore my words, while pretending to be good listeners. They were more interested in speaking about themselves, than listening. And it was not just about listening with their ears, they refused to listen with their heart.
Today, I still notice how many people speak more and listen less.
We might believe that we are actively taking part in a conversation because we hear the words. But the truth is that listening is an art, an art we can learn to practise properly.
But why is it so important to listen with all your being? Moreover, how do you know you are a good listener?
We all want to feel special and feel that we matter. But in these days of instantaneity, we almost expect everything to happen quickly. For many, fast results with little effort is part of the new culture. So, no wonder we are always in a hurry for something.
The problem, with this way of life, is that we become impatient. Our conversations tend to follow this societal trend. We want people to get to the point because we don’t have much time. We all want to say our bit and put our point across. The minute someone interacts with us, we want to give our own opinions because we believe that what we have to say is incredibly important.
And I totally understand why we feel that way. When was the last time you felt you were really listened to? When was last time you felt your views, your feelings, your ideas really mattered?
What has happened to our listening skills?
Being a good listener has become one of the most precious skills in our current society. People who give us quality and personal time are considered invaluable friends.
When I am in the presence of a friend who has her mind elsewhere, maybe on the TV programme broadcasting as we speak, or on the crowd in the bar, and it is obvious that her mind is anywhere but in the ‘conversation’, I simply want to be quiet. After all, what is the point in speaking to yourself? And maybe that is enough for some people who want to air their views no matter what, or feel uncomfortable with silence. But regardless of the reason, continuously taking your focus away from the present company is showing how little you want to be part of the interaction. The message received by the other party is simply that you don’t care much about their company.
Maybe we are still thinking about what our colleague said at work. Maybe we are going through a presentation in our head. Or even worried about money issues. The truth is, most of us are thinking about a billion things in one day.
As a parent of young children, the importance of displaying good listening skills is vital for the healthy development of the child. You will raise happier and more confident children, if you show that you care about what they have to say. We tend to look at them directly in the eyes when they speak, and even repeat some of their words, maybe use some speech markers and utter some ‘WOW’ or ‘Really?’, all of which demonstrate we are interacting with them. Children whose parents do not listen, develop low self-esteem problems, among other issues.
Be present in the conversation, and show how much the other person matters.
Being present in any conversation, with a child or an adult, gives the message that the other person matters.
When you listen with your eyes, you notice the body language; a language that often speaks louder than words.
When you listen with your heart, you feel the emotions that are being projected. You are able to sympathise or ‘hear’ their feelings.
Listening with all your being is listening with your ears, with your eyes and with your heart.Allow emotions to be a major sensor of the interaction. For emotions, says Professor Amthor, are crucial for mediating social interactions, which are one of the most complex environments in which humans exist.
The most intelligent animals show these social skills. They are able to interact on an emotional level.
Listen with your ears, with your eyes and with your heart.
We all want to feel special, and many crave some attention in this society of less and less quality time, and more and more fast actions and pressures.
Children learn by example and when we do not listen to them with all our being, they learn to behave like us. Let’s be the role model who will start the change.
The best way to show you truly care about your family and friends, is to give them eye to eye, heart to heart conversations. Be present with them, take notice.
Not only will you improve those relationships, but you will enhance your own life when you reconnect in a more emotional way. Listening with all your being shows compassion and love towards others, and yourself, for it is crucial to listen to your own needs, too.
When you allow others to ignore your own words and feelings, you are giving the same message: You don’t matter.
Knowing your friends, your children, your partner and yourself, is to hear what they are saying with your ears, your eyes and your heart.
I am taking on that challenge, and I shall take notice of how I hear others and myself. Are you prepared to do the same?