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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A lesson on listening

Today I'm gonna talk about something that has been really prominent in my life lately, and something that I think everyone needs to bring awareness too, even if you are good at it... LISTENING.

I had a Life Coaching class this past weekend, and the people I worked with as coaches actually left me feeling unheard. One session with me as the client actually brought up some deep abandonment issues.. then left me feeling abandoned. When I went home, surrounded by friends, I tried to communicate my feelings, but no one would listen to me. I felt really abandoned still. I felt like I needed to do something in order to be heard... Then last night I had another class and this class was centered and focused around developing listening skills! This got me thinking... Most people are never heard, so they repeat their stories over and over until they get someone to help by giving them what they are searching for. This may be assurance, advice, just being HEARD, understanding, relation, etc...

So next time you run into an issue where someone keeps telling that same story over and over again try listening. One amazing phrase (that is now my favorite) that I learned in Life Coaching is the phrase "What in that story did you want me to hear?" This helps the person to step back and really analyze what you were meant to hear, and maybe even what they are trying to get out of it. By really working with people on this even you could get something huge out of it.

There are people in your life that you avoid talking to simply because they are a repeater, or maybe even because they dont let YOU get what you want to say out. It may even be because they call YOU out on being a repeater. Either way, here are some information on listening:

"The most basic of all human needs is the need to be understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them." -Ralph Nichols

Listening is receiving and perceiving information. In order to listen you need to have a clear mind, good intention, come from a place without judgement, interest, and to not assume you already know the information. Even if 5 people come up to you in the same day to talk about the same thing, like the presidential debates, or the weather, They may all have something different to share. They may have a new angle, different information, and it may be the same subject but different intention. Be open to anyone that needs your ear. This is what being a good friend is!

93% of communication is non verbal, so only 7 percent is actually what you say. The rest is the tone in your voice, body language, facial expressions, and energy. Be mindful of how you say things because they can be perceived in hundreds of ways.

Someone in my class brought up a great example. The sentence 'I Didnt say I slept with your wife" Can have dozens of meanings depending on where the emphasis is.
"I didn't say I slept with your wife."
"I didnt say I slept with your wife."
"I didn't say I slept with your wife."
"I didn't say I slept with your wife."
"I didn't say I slept with your wife."
"I didn't say I slept with your wife."
Those are all completely different sentences! Crazy, huh?

Try these tips out to improve your listening skills, let me know how it works out;
  • Allow pauses, and breathe before responding. Make sure the other person is done talking.
  • When you speak incorporate in what you just heard the other person say in order to make sure what you are saying is relevent.
  • Focus on the facts. If they are a worrier and say "Im gonna get fired and this person hates me and blah blah blah" make sure you ask questions or comment only on the part of it that is concrete, not assumed or made up by the person. 
  • Try not to focus on the dramatic part of the story, so again - facts!
  • Make summarizing statements - "so what I hear you saying is..."
  • Don't contradict them or take away from how they feel about the situation.
  • Understand and THEN be understood.
  • Be present and engaged.
  • Ask clarifying questions.
  • Use phrases like "Im wondering..." or "Im noticing" especially when their tone doesnt reflect their body language or their words.
  • Dont be uncomfortable with silence. Filler is just that - filler. Really reflect and appreciate the person you are listening to.
  • Stay open minded and don't take things personally.
And remember, think "What in this story do they want me to hear? People are social beings and need interaction. Someone if telling you something for a reason. Stay conscious and blessings!

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