By Dr. Marta Adelsman
Life Coach in Communication and Consciousness
(March 14, 2018)
I’ve been told I listen well, and most of the time I do. After all, it’s the major skill in my profession! I’m embarrassed and humbled to admit how I sometimes become distracted and fail to live up to my listening reputation.
Sometimes, when people talk to me and I don’t agree with them, I plan a counter argument in my head. I have stopped listening. I might tune a person out because of how he behaves or dresses. I have stopped listening. If I label someone ‘boring’ and allow my mind to wander, guess what? I have stopped listening.
How do you forget to listen? Maybe, like me, you tune in more to the chatter in your head than to the person in front of you. Perhaps you interrupt others or finish their sentences.
True listeners cultivate genuine curiosity about people with whom they speak. They drop their notions of what a person is like so they can find out what she is really like. They let go of what they think someone will say to find out what she really has to say. True listeners often discover interesting facts about others that lead to captivating conversations.
My husband, Steve, and I have engaged in many challenging conversations throughout our 47-year relationship. When stubbornness won and we each insisted on being understood, we would leave the conversation feeling miserable, sad and lonely. We didn’t understand this next concept…
True listening happens when you seek to understand before being understood. When Steve and I took some space and used that space to explore our own motives, we usually became willing to drop our end of the rope. When we took up the conversation again, even if only one of us simply listened, the other became willing to listen as well.
In true listening, you hold yourself still in order to hear the other person’s truth. You quiet the mind’s chatter. From the silence, you hold the person capable and worthy of respect. You thus create an accepting energy between you that frees the person to show up as capable and respect-worthy. [Write a cornerstone article on… say… 3 elements of true listening]
Yes, it’s true. This professional listener does not always listen perfectly. I’ve learned, though, to be patient with myself, and I encourage you to do the same. After all, we’ve spent our formative years — and probably decades since then — observing poor listening models. Like me, you won’t always get it perfect. Allow time, and treat yourself with kindness as you practice new patterns.