Jul 222011
 

I was listening to a business coach do a sample session this morning, and it was fascinating.

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.

For You

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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  24 Responses to “7 Pointers to Sharpen Your Intuitive Ear”

Comments (16) Trackbacks (8)
  1.  

    My listening skills tend to come and go based upon the audience, topic, and my level of personal, emotional engagement. You know this is so interesting that you bring this up, as I’ve noticed the difference in “listening” through my ears in person compared to “listening” through writing and email. Sometimes we misunderstand due to the written word getting misconstrued, and other times it’s so crystal clear it’s unnerving – like you’re so glad they wrote it because if they had said it you might have missed it!

    Boy, I wish there were a way to always, 100% of the time, convey your true message and intentions, but it seems the filters we have in place can get in the way.

    •  

      Hi Julie,

      Yes, so true! There are so many aspects to listening and different ways to listen. As I began writing this it was almost discouraging because it’s not even the tip of the iceberg!

      Like you, my level of engagement makes a huge difference. (That relates to what I remember too. If I don’t care, it’s gone!)

      And as to the written word, email can be an especially tricky one, you’re so right on there. And I do know what you mean about getting messages through email (in black and white, or not) that you might have missed if spoken.

      And I hear ya on that last statement you made about 100% of the time. Ah, it would make life much easier wouldn’t it. But hmmm, maybe not! Or maybe not nearly so interesting! ;-)

      Thanks so much for the thought-provoking comment. (BTW I’ve been “in the middle of” several of your great articles for awhile now. I’ll come back and actually finish them — promise!)

  2.  

    Hi Patti,

    It is true. We could all benefit from being better listeners.

    I know that when I was younger, I did not listen properly mainly because I was too focused on trying to provide solutions. As you rightly point out, sometimes, people just want you to listen and be present for them. That in itself is a powerful form of healing for them. More importantly, they feel supported and get what is bothering them off their minds. Indeed listening is a vital element when it comes to having strong and healthy relationships. After all, if you don’t listen, how will you know what is really on the mind of your loved one?

    All the points you have listed for listening are important. But the following ones stand out for me.

    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?

    When it comes to listening, it is always important to see the big picture and to understand the other person’s point of view. When you do so, listening becomes as easy as breathing.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier
    The Vizier recently posted..Joy, Sorrow and HarmonyMy Profile

    •  

      Irving,

      What a beautiful person you are. Sorry if that sounds mushy but right now it’s just exactly what I’m thinking. You put so much of yourself into your posts and your comments, and you’re a gift to all of us.

      On top of that — you are so right about this. I love your #4! So true what you say about judgement being suspended naturally.

      I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to add that part of your comment into the post. I think it belongs there… Check it out.

      Thanks so much, as always. You’re a treasure.

  3.  

    Marking this for future reference, too. Great message. Thank you! I am so appreciative of those who are fully preset when listening to me – wow, what a difference it makes. I feel valued and listened to and reminds me to try to do the same.
    becky recently posted..This MomentMy Profile

    •  

      Oh Hi, Becky,

      It’s been awhile…I remember you and your inspiring site. Nice to see you again.

      You made me remember a little story. I have a group of women friends that I started getting to know quite a few years back. I remember how during some of our first group gatherings, I began to notice that whenever I’d talk, they would all be very attentive. Well, of course, they’re like that with all of us all the time, but the point is that it struck me at the time because it was so unusual! It almost felt weird! Like “How come they’re all so quiet and staring at me? Oh ya, I’m talking.”

      And I so agree with you. When people do that for me, it’s really kind of precious and it makes me really want to respond in kind. To them, and then to others too.

      Thanks for coming by and thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts to the mix.

  4.  

    Patti,
    I like to think I’m a good listener…and yet, as I read this today and really let your words soak into my soul – I’m reminded that I can do so much better (thank you).

    I really love your fourth point – listening with our hearts. Sometimes I *get* this…and sometimes I just miss the boat. So, I am planning to really focus on this – on listening not just with my ears…listening in an even more meaningful way…with my heart…
    Lance recently posted..Music For The Soul: FireworkMy Profile

    •  

      Hi Lance,

      Yes, you aren’t the only one… I think I’m a good listener, but my husband claims otherwise. Just kidding (or not ;-) )what . It’s more like you said: I can do better. Fact is, sometimes I’m excellent, and sometimes I’m horrible. But if I decide to focus more on it like you’ve said you’re going to do, then it’s kind of natural.

      Thanks for stopping by and especially for taking the time to share this. Much appreciated!

  5.  

    Hi Patti,
    When I read your words, two things speak strongly to me. One: I am excellent at listening to others, however I may apply each of your points to listening to my self. Two: when people share, they are often trying to convey what is beyond the actual words they choose to communicate with..which is why active listening is so important to genuine connections.

    •  

      Hi Joy,

      First, nice to meet you — welcome!

      I love your idea. When I wrote this I was thinking of listening to others and it would be very interesting and good to flip that around and use it on myself. And as to number 2, hear hear. Sometimes words are so inadequate, aren’t they? Or like Julie mentioned, a whole new dynamic comes into play when we’re writing too. Ah, such a complex and rich activity we’re involved in!

      Thanks so much for leaving your mark here. I like it!

  6.  

    When I am helping someone for coaching purposes I listen intuitively and with intent. In my personal life if I am having a conversation and the person wants feedback then I will do the same. If the other person just wants to do a data dump then my mind will wander elsewhere.
    Justin | Mazzastick recently posted..Your Truth Shall Set You FreeMy Profile

    •  

      Hi Justin,

      Interesting distinction. Although my mind wanders too in that situation, it doesn’t go very far. I remember when I first noticed some years back that people who talk incessantly exhaust me. It’s the opposite of what I would have expected because it seems like they are doing all the work, but I realized it’s because I can’t help but try to listen. And that takes energy. Lots of it, apparently! For the most part, I don’t spend that much time around people whom I don’t want to actively listen to. But seriously, so glad you brought that up. It’s worth noting the difference.

      Thanks for coming by with your thoughts!

  7.  

    Patti,
    Great post. When I was in my late 30′s a dear friend told me, “All unasked for advice is verbal abuse.” It took a long time for that to sink in. When I want to give advice the most I ask my adult children, “Do you want my advice or do you want me to listen?” Guess what they say???

    I didn’t learn to listen with an open heart until I became a therapist. It requires listening without judgment for me. And when I really want to see where I’m at with listening I only need to sit down with someone I don’t agree with and shut my mouth and open my heart and mind. I do this with my Republican friends. If we could get this right we could have world peace. Ya think?
    Tess The Bold Life recently posted..75 Steps for a Fear-Less LifeMy Profile

    •  

      Hi Tess,

      Thanks so much for adding this great thought into our comment stream. Very helpful, I like it! Well, them, actually. Verbal abuse… wow…

      And then listening to someone you don’t agree with, also great. I guess I get double practice since I can listen to both Democrats and Republicans that way, LOL. ;-) And ya, getting it right would be a most excellent step toward world peace.

      Thanks bunches, friend! Nice to see you again.

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