Saturday, 9 March 2013

Are you listening?

It is pretty cool to be among the very first to "get" what's going on. To sense the promise, dare the dream, feel the power, tempt the fear, know the truth, rise above and be a light to billions who will follow.

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Except, of course, it's sometimes lonely, very lonely! Last couple of weeks has been a time that my senses have been working full time. It is tiring as I’m wondering if I’m hearing you correctly! I’m a little confused as I deal with people whose body language (non-verbal) doesn’t match with what you are saying (verbal). It becomes even more complex when you all are saying something different. And let’s not mention when your personal needs & goals don’t match with the needs & goals of the group.

Listening is noting what, when and how something is being said. Listening is distinguishing what is not being said from what is silence. Listening is not acting like you’re in a hurry, even if you are. Listening is eye contact, a hand placed gently upon an arm. Sometimes, listening is taking careful notes in the person’s own words. Listening involves suspension of judgment. It is neither analyzing nor racking your brain for labels, diagnoses, or remedies before the person is done relating her symptoms. Listening, like labor assisting, creates a safe space where whatever needs to happen or be said can come. — Allison Para Bastien

According to Thomas Gordon "Active listening is certainly not complex. Listeners need only restate, in their own language, their impression of the expression of the sender. ... Still, learning to do Active Listening well is a rather difficult task ..."

I hear you! But I’m having some difficulties in letting ‘the others’ hear you too.

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The following virtues describe me: discernment, leadership & ruling. These virtues define my personality, my underlying values and beliefs. But my highly developed ability to see through a lot of confusion and pinpoint problems and solutions is the gift I sometimes wish I didn’t have, as I sometimes come across as too critical because I share my insights/observations too quickly. I have the tendency to confront and challenge others with my discernment. But I’m only voicing what you are telling me! Why has communicating become so difficult? Don’t we listen any more? I truly believe that are we to survive in the twenty-first century we must become better communicators. We need to (re-) learn to speak and listen honestly and compassionately across diversity and difference.

Listening is the process of receiving, constructing meaning from and responding to spoken and/or nonverbal messages (ILA, 1996). Listening is a visual as well as auditory act. The next step beyond discriminating between different sounds and sights is to make sense of them. In deep listening, you listen between the lines of what is said, hearing the emotion, watching the body language, detecting needs and goals, identifying preferences and biases, perceiving beliefs and values, and so on.

Is it possible to bring about a shift in the modes of communication that dominate our society? A fruitful place to begin work on shifting our patterns of communication is with the quality of our listening. Poor listeners, underdeveloped listeners, are frequently unable to separate their own needs and interests from those of others. Everything they hear comes with an automatic bias: How does this affect me? What can I say next to get things my way? On a daily basis, I meet a lot of poor listeners. People who put their needs first. Sadly, there are lots of people who are not bothered about evolving their level of self-awareness and let’s not mention their reflective capabilities Sad.

Deep listening involves listening, from a deep, receptive, and caring place in oneself, to deeper and often subtler levels of meaning and intention in the other person. It is listening that is generous, empathic, supportive, accurate, and trusting. Trust here does not imply agreement, but the trust that whatever others say, regardless of how well or poorly it is said, comes from something true in their experience. Deep listening is an ongoing practice of suspending self-oriented, reactive thinking and opening one’s awareness to the unknown and unexpected. And lets be truthful, this is scary. Exploring the unknown and accepting the unexpected gives joy to my life.

Deep listening focuses first and foremost on self-awareness as the ground for listening and communicating well with others. This may seem paradoxical—paying more attention to ourselves in order to better communicate with others—but without some clarity in our relationship to ourselves, we will have a hard time improving our relationships with others. A clouded mirror cannot reflect accurately. We cannot perceive, receive, or interact authentically with others unless our self-relationship is authentic.

Deep listening is a way of being in the world that is sensitive to all facets of our experience—external, internal, and contextual. It involves listening to parts we frequently are deaf to.

I’m an intuitive listener looking for the story behind the message, and the opportunity beyond the issue. Listening is about discovery, and I realize that discovery can not only impact the present, but it can also influence the future. Opportunities rarely come from talking, but they quite frequently come from observing and listening. This most likely explains why I love researching and developing a greater understanding.

What I’m pondering about is how I can share my observations with you? I want to share what I see and hear although I sometimes feel persecuted for speaking my mind and voicing the injustice I hear.

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Where will my insights lead me? I know I will find my way as I possess the following characteristics: courage, justice, temperance, wisdom, faith, hope, and love. To end this post I would like to ask you, are you hearing me?

It is insight into human nature that is the key to the communicator's skill. For whereas the writer is concerned with what he puts into his writings, the communicator is concerned with what the reader gets out of it. He therefore becomes a student of how people read or listen. — William Bernbach

 

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