Due to our cultural overstimulation of internal mind chatter, it is often the case that when we have a conversation with another person, we are not actually listening or connecting to what they are saying, but are instead busy thinking of how what we are going to say once they stop talking. But what they are saying is actually affecting us whether we hear it or not.
Becoming aware of what is being said around us is part of the toolset for navigating through resonance and dissonance. In order to develop our listening skills, for this week, I would like to invite you to practice active listening for at least half an hour per day.
You can do this with someone in your home, work, environment, online or on the phone. If you can, find a partner at wwmn and practice with each other.
What is active listening?
When the other person is speaking during the conversation, we put our full attention on them. If our attention wanders, or our mind starts planning a response and we stop listening and are just waiting for them to stop talking so we can say what we rather talk about, we can use the following:
Reflecting is when we paraphrase back to them (don’t repeat exactly) what the other person has said in order to check that we have understood what they said.
This is us asking them questions to ensure that we understood what they said. Ask open questions that allows the person to expand on certain points they shared. It helps if you ask questions about the points that interest you most.
In your own words, repeat back to him or her what the person has said. This is done sparingly and at regular intervals. This gives the person the chance to let you know if you heard him or her correctly or not.
A couple of hours after your conversation is over (it’s handy to have an alarm to remind you), write down the key points the person spoke about. Remember this is not about pretending to be listening, it’s about us learning how to actively listen. And it’s not about making the other person happy because he or she think you are interested and listening to what they have to say (these methods have been used to do that), it is literally to practice active listening. So, if you find yourself terribly bored or disturbed with the person you chose to listen to, end the conversation quickly and kindly, and find another person to listen to
The things we want to avoid when we are in the middle of the conversation are:
- Talking about ourselves.
- Interrupting the person to tell them a story that’s related to what they said, but involves other people or us.
- Looking around for more interesting things to look at.
- Forgetting what the person said a few seconds after they said it.
- Thinking and planning what we are going to say when they stop talking.
- Thinking about other, unrelated things while they are talking (work, shopping, our next meal, our spouse, kids or other important relationships etc)
As we use this exercise, we start actively listening to everyone around us and will make it obvious who is sharing data and energy that is resonant to us, and those who are sharing data and energy that is dissonant. Listening actively helps us to navigate into relationships and discussions that are better, easy, supportive, interesting and expansive.
I look forward to reading your experience!