To be truly “listened to” is a rare gift. Being listened to is when another person is totally with you, eager to empathize, leaning in towards you, totally present. Ah, now that is listening!
You may wonder why we have lost the art of listening to each other? We all have different levels of listening that are appropriate throughout the day. Over the next few ezines I would like to introduce you to the 3 levels of listening that I learned at The Coaching Training Institute, along with guidelines for when to listen or not to listen.
There are several elements that make up how we listen. One element is how we want to be perceived and how we perceive others. This impacts the quality of our listening. An example is if we want to be perceived as funny, or smart, we may make up a pre-programmed response before the person has even finished a few sentences. We listen with our own agenda.
How we perceive someone affects our ability to listen. An example of this is if we think our teenage child is a troublemaker, skipping school, not doing their homework, do you think we will be listening to them through a filter of judgment, anger, and disappointment, you bet we will? How we view someone will skew our ability to really hear what he or she are saying.
On a spiritual note, how well do you listen to your Divine Guidance, Guides or Angels? Have you ever even thought about it?
Listening is one of the most underutilized tools available to us today. We often think we are listening, but if we truly checked in, we would see that we are only partially present. On a scale of 1-10—10 being fully present and 0 being tuned out—how would you rate your level of listening with the following:
- Divine guidance, intuition, inner voice
- Children, spouse, family, friends
- Boss, employers, co workers
- Your pets, nature
- How much you talk versus listening
Observe yourself as you interact with others, and rate your listening skills. How present were you? Were you thinking of a response before they even finished talking? I compare the art of listening and talking to a great game of catch. You don’t want to play with someone who consistently hogs the ball and runs away with it. When the ball is thrown back and forth it creates an enjoyable game for both people.
I had a friend that had very strong control boundaries around talking and listening and would say, “Okay you can have 10 minutes to share your news and then I will share mine.” This created enormous pressure on me, and eventually I shut down and I did not want to say anything, and our friendship ended.
We all have different levels of listening throughout any specific day. Today, I will introduce you to level one of listening:
At level One- Our attention is on ourselves. We listen to the words of the other person, but the focus is on what it means to us. The spotlight is on our own thoughts, feelings, judgments, and conclusions. This type of listening may be appropriate when we are traveling and needing to gather information, ordering at a restaurant, or buying a product. Level one informs us about ourselves and what is going on around us.
- Notice how often throughout the day you are at level one listening. Do certain people or situations trigger a level one listening response from you?