How Listening Makes You Powerful
Hey! Listen! - Navi, The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
Do you ever find yourself doing this when you are listening to someone?
- Oooh, that's not really true. I had better correct them as soon as I can get a word in.
- I don't agree with that. I need to make that clear right now [SCOWLY FACE]
- I have a brilliant response to that! They will get a kick out of it, so I'll interrupt to share.
- I don't like what this person is saying. I will discourage them by frowning.
- I do like what this person is saying. I will encourage them by nodding.
The inner dialogue boils down to:
- Is this something I need to react to in order to assert me, myself, and I?
Most conversations have a whole peanut gallery's worth of commentary going in the the heads of the "listeners!"
If we hear something that isn't in the container we call "me" we may feel a need to deny its existence. I did this a lot. I thought I had to so people would see me as important.
Then, I realized something that changed everything about how I interacted with people.
In fact, it changed almost everything about how I deal with people in general. This one little realization helped me connect on a deeper level, to feel compassion for others, and to be more open to exploring new relationships and the experiences they offer.
I learned that everyone was just as desperate to express themselves as I was. They just wanted to be heard.
When they're not heard, they respond by either closing up or by talking more in a desperate attempt to get their point across.
Clearly, this isn't a recipe for fulfilling and engaging connections.
So, I decided to try listening really hard, to give them exactly what they wanted and see what they would offer as a result.
Here's what I do:
- Take a moment to set aside the thoughts I've been carrying around
- Give the other person my fullest attention
- Keep my opinions out of it and try to see things from their POV
- Attend to body language and facial expressions
- Attend to tone
- Turn to face them
- When judging thoughts come up, acknowledge them and let them go
- Remind myself that it's not my job to correct, educate, or advise (unless asked)
You don't have to run through that checklist...simply allow yourself to get absorbed in what the other person is sharing (channel you on your first date with your dream person. You'd pay attention).
The results if this approach have been shocking:
- I'm invited to speak more, because I actually understand people's problems. When I do speak, I'm listened to
- People respect me more, because I exude the calm, quiet confidence of a man who doesn't need to fill the air with the sound of his own voice to remind himself he still exists (I try to channel Daniel Craig). Aka, I have Presence (by being present. Funny how that works).
Give it a try. See if you can rise to the (significant) challenge of letting go of the need to be right or provide advice.
Instead, be a great opportunity for the other person to express themselves to another human being.
PS: Kokiri companion faeries are no exception. Just hit UP C and hear her out.