He was so good at helping people get past their blocks, and what he was doing seemed a lot like intuitive coaching to me (or how I would imagine good intuitive coaching).
I checked his website to see if he presents himself as an intuitive coach. Nope. Not a word about that.
But boy, did this guy listen.
He listened to what people said, and maybe more importantly, he listened to what they didn’t say. He read between the lines. He heard the thoughts and felt the feelings behind their words.
He then used his perceptions to help reveal, clarify, and organize. He worked with the callers to zero right in on areas where new awareness, decisions, and action can make the biggest difference. It was amazing.
And I got thinking…
Deep listening and intuition have a lot in common.
Do You Listen?
How well do you listen? If you’re like most of us, not very well. I often notice that very few people really listen anymore, and I’m just as guilty as the next person.
I think this happens because we’re usually on a mission of our own. We’re in active, output mode.
And then when we are in input mode, we’re often in a super-mental space (e.g. surfing the internet) or a zoned-out space (e.g. watching T.V.).
Or when we’re straddling the two modes, like when we’re in a conversation, we have our own thoughts going full-throttle in our head. “Ya, that’s right…” or “Well, that’s not exactly true…” or “When will he stop yapping so I can tell him about my much more interesting experience/thoughts/whatever…” Right?
And in groups, too often the person running a meeting has their own agenda and just does not give others their due.
Of course it’s not always this extreme, but I think most of us could listen much better than we do.
The Value of Listening
But oh, there are so many great reasons to listen. Here are just a few.
For the Other Person
Sometimes someone will want your counsel or advice. If you can really tune-in to what they’re saying instead of listening mostly to the commentary in your head, you’ll be much more helpful.
And when you’re really tuned in, you sometimes notice that what they’re saying might even contradict what you’re hearing at a deeper level. Their head is saying one thing through their mouths, but their heart is saying something entirely different.
Sometimes people just need to talk, and they don’t need or even want your advice. In these cases it’s powerful if you can simply be present for them. If you’re truly present, you’ll also be listening. The presence in and of itself is healing at many levels.
For Both (or All) of You
True listening can bring you closer. It’s intimate. It feels good.
Today when my husband and I walked to the mailbox, he talked about something that was bothering him. Mostly I listened. I responded with a few simple thoughts, and later he thanked me for listening and talking with him. I didn’t even say anything of significance. But he said he was feeling a lot better. And so was I.
If you’re open and prepared to really listen in the first place, it’s more likely that someone will open up to you. They know that judgement and unsolicited advice will not be thrust upon them. This is especially true of our kids, even our grown ones.
In groups it’s just as important. Instead of having an agenda or an out of control ego, it’s so much more productive and satisfying to open to all the ideas and really find the best way forward for all involved.
Listening can go a long way toward strengthening relationships.
Of course, when you listen and as a result add positively to someone’s life — even in a small way — it feels good. So there’s that.
You also stand to gain not only new information but new or deeper insights and understandings. And not only about whomever you’re listening to, but about yourself as well. This is always good.
And if, like me, you enjoy exercising your intuitive muscles, then all the more reason to do this.
In fact, I’d say being intuitive is almost impossible without knowing how to listen.
The Lost Art of Listening
So if we make a decision to listen — and I mean really listen — how do we do that? What does that mean?
Well, first off, I’m sure you know. You just may not have thought about it or make it a point to do it.
Here are a few things that can point the way to good listening.
1. Remind yourself to listen.
Deciding to do this and then following through is the biggest step of all. In other words: Ya gotta wanna.
2. Make it a point to not interrupt.
You may be good at this already, but I know I have to work on this one all the time. Especially when I’m excited about the topic.
3. Leave space. Take a breath.
I’m getting better at this but I used to pack my jyotish readings so full of information there was very little room for discussion. But I’ve found that the more interactive they are and the more I can be there in the moment with them, the better. So now I try to leave a lot more space.
Discussions — and especially those that are even remotely related to counseling — are not just about information. The more you can tune-in and respond in the moment, the more useful it is.
Things come up you could never anticipate, and they are exactly what’s needed at the time.
4. Open your heart.
Did you know your heart is one of your best organs for listening? Maybe even better than your ears.
Consciously make a decision to listen with your heart. You’ll discover what that means as you do it and it will make all the difference. This is true especially when you’re talking with someone about a disagreement or working through something similar.
Note: One of my regular commenters came up with his own really good #4, which so happens to do away with a need for #6. (Thank-you, Irving!) I like it so much I’m putting it here for you.
4. Open your heart
Open your heart. Really feel concern for the person you are listening to. Try to see where they are coming from and place yourself in their shoes. When you do so, you will really listen and understand what they are trying to share. And as a result, they will feel better also.
If you do this well, you suspend judgment naturally. After all, if you see the big picture and understand the reasons behind it, how can you judge?
5. Stay focused.
Have you ever talked with someone who’s looking around, or otherwise distracted? Someone who’s trying to multi-task and not being attentive? Not real pleasant. Don’t be that person.
6. Suspend judgement.
It has no place here. Let it take a hike.
7. Stay humble.
You don’t have to have any answers or words of wisdom. Accept that you don’t know, or that you don’t have to know. Stay open inside too, and you may be surprised at how much insight or understanding just appears out of nowhere.
Listening can be such an enriching experience for everyone involved, and I’m going to give listening — really listening — a more concerted effort for awhile. Care to join me?
Do you have other pointers for listening deeply, or thoughts about why it’s so valuable? Want to share them? I’m listening…
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