Communication is so important in relationships. When relationships break up or don’t go well, it is often due to a communication breakdown.
We communicate in many different ways but today I am going to talk about verbal communication.
Verbal communication involves speaking and listening. We hear a lot about being honest, speaking your truth and fully expressing yourself and I agree 100%.
What we don’t hear as much about is listening.
The first concept about listening that really changed listening for me is “listen with the intent to understand instead of trying to be understood”.
Listen like you really want to get what the other person is experiencing. Really be curious and interested in understanding them at a deeper level.
It really is about receiving another person. Give them the gift of being heard and wanting to understand them. We all want to be seen and heard.
And while I don’t believe we can completely understand another person and their experience because we aren’t them, we can listen to try and understand the best that we can. Just the intention of doing so is a big gift.
To be clear, this isn’t about agreeing with someone. It is about trying to see another’s perspective.
Instead, what we tend to do is while someone is speaking, we think about what we are going to say in response. We think “what is the right thing to say? Do I have an answer?”
This takes us away from truly listening. It diverts our attention to thinking about a response instead of receiving the other person.
Another thing we tend to do is get caught up in being understood and getting our point across so we often interrupt them.
I am fortunate (although it doesn’t feel like it at times:)) to live with a husband and 2 daughters who are my biggest teachers.
If my daughter is talking and I can see that she is getting more and more worked up, I interrupt her in attempts to avoid a melt down. This is all about my own self-preservation because I don’t want to have to deal with the melt down.
As soon as I interrupt her, she says “Mom, I am not finished. You are not listening to me!!!!”
Yep, she is right. I am not listening to her, just trying to avoid being with her heightened emotions.
Years ago at a WarriorSage Illumination Intensive Retreat, I learned a process that has been so helpful in deepening my listening skills. It is called a dyad.
A dyad is a communication between 2 people. One person is speaking and the other is listening. It isn’t a conversation. The listening partner only says “thank you”. There are other guidelines as well but that is the simplification of it.
I love this process because when I am speaking, I know I am not going to receive advice or the opinion of my partner. It is an opportunity for me to speak my truth and be heard. I also love being the listening partner because my only focus is to listen to and receive my partner and say thank you.
You can arrange this with someone in your life as an actual process or just begin to listen and have your only response be “thank you” unless you are asked for your perspective.
I invite you to give it a try and see what you think.
The second concept that was a game changer for me in the realm of listening is also from an Illumination Intensive.
We were having lunch and we were asked to only speak about ourselves and our process. A staff member sat at each table.
What the staff member said has stuck with me ever since. He said “since we are all from God/Universe/Source (GUS) and of GUS, then anyone speaking to you is GUS speaking to you”.
For the rest of the retreat, I listened differently. Instead of being caught up in my own stuff, I listened as if I was being given a message. I was fully present and receiving the person sitting across from me.
In doing so, I received so many gems of wisdom. Since everything is for me (and you), then everyone I meet and what they say to me is for me in some way. If I am not present and truly listening, I will miss out.
By being really present and listening with the intent to understand, we are giving the gift of receiving someone and in that receiving, we are being given to at the same time. It’s a beautiful full circle.
Are you listening well?