Shhh…Are You Listening?
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey
I love this quote from the bestselling author of “Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People,” because it points out the big difference between “listening” and really, truly listening. Think about it. When having a conversation with someone, be it business, personal or whatever, most of us are actually only half listening. The other half of our brain is busy formulating a response to what is being said. Unfortunately, this kind of “diluted” listening is the norm.
Obviously, when you’re listening, you’re not doing the talking. But, are you really silent? That voice in your head keeps chattering away, interjecting real-time analyses of everything the other person is saying, generating ancillary thoughts and, again, formulating that perfect response.
Real listening requires a genuine silence on the part of the listener, a stillness that is both internal and external. With our minds busy processing the countless messages we receive every day, this kind of listening doesn’t come naturally to most people. For the individual who’s doing the talking, true listening feels like a gift. Consciously or subconsciously, the speaker is deeply appreciative of that kind of clear, unfettered attention.
True listening also fosters a different kind of relationship, a deeper level of trust, and a heightened clarity around what’s being communicated. As spirituaI teacher Ekhart Tolle points out, it can lift all kinds of relationships from the mundane to a much higher plane.
“When you truly listen to someone, the dimension of stillness arises and becomes an essential part of the relationship,” Tolle says. “But true listening is a rare skill. Far more important than what you are listening to is the act of listening itself, the space of conscious presence that arises as you listen. In that space, you are joined together as one awareness, one consciousness.”
Shhh…are you listening?