There is so much to be said about listening effectively. I believe that a lot of our hurt and pain in life comes from not being heard the way that we need to be heard. You see, when we really listen to what someone is saying, we validate them. And on some level, most of us are still 5-year-old versions of ourselves who didn’t feel listened to as a child, who just wanted to feel loved and accepted. When someone listens to us we feel accepted and validated and truthfully, wouldn’t the world be so much more peaceful if we all felt loved and accepted?
This is what I know to be true about listening from the heart; you have to get incredibly quiet and listen without anything on your mind. Then you listen to what they are saying and to what their heart is afraid to say aloud. Listen beyond the words – listen to the feeling. When you are quiet you will hear it. We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason.
12 Keys to Listening with your Heart
- Validate what people are saying without engaging in your own story. It isn’t always helpful to relate what someone is going through by identifying something similar that you have gone through or someone you know has gone through. When you engage in your story, you dismiss what that person is saying and they feel like they don’t matter. This can happen both aloud, and also in your own mind. As soon as you start thinking about your story, you lose focus on the person you are communicating with.
- Beware of becoming a “one upper”. Allow others to have their story, even if you have had something similar happen or know someone who has experienced something similar. When you “one up” those that you communicate with they will often do one of two things: 1. They will shut down and tolerate your babbling without contributing further. 2. You create a gateway for a competition to see who can up the other the best. Either way, a deep and effective listening is impossible with this approach and no one is validated.
- Listen without rushing for them to be finished so that you can have your say or your input on the matter. When your brain begins to formulate a rebuttal or a response you “tune out” to the depth of what is being said. Continue to listen even when you want to make your point known. Avoid becoming defensive. This is when you stop listening and your mind goes to forming nasty responses and rebuttals. When your mind is engaging in your responses you are unable to listen to what the other is saying.
- Stay out of the need to be right. Let go of your position and stop standing your ground.
- Relax into what they are saying. Breathe into it. Find a stillness within yourself and listen beyond what they are saying. Listen to the space between their words. Pay attention to tonation, body language, eye movements etc.
- Listen for the agreement…avoid listening for the disagreement. What do you understand? What questions could you ask to be sure that you understand what they are saying? Don’t be afraid to dig deeper and ask them more questions to get clarity and a deeper understanding of their perspective.
- Don’t attribute or project a motive (even if they have one). Don’t assume that what they are saying is intentionally trying to make you mad or hurt you.
- Listen without a filter, without the need to fix them. Surrender or invite Divine to help you let go and let the feeling and words flow up from inside you and you will hear what they are saying at a whole new level.
- Ask questions about the content of what they are offering, this will acknowledge them and allow them to feel important, heard and safe. Get curious about how they see their world.
- Don’t analyze. Don’t try to match your behavior or interaction with your education or what you ‘think’ you know. When you listen and respond this way, you create a space for judgment of self and others to bubble up into the conversation – which leads to defensiveness and other barriers. Don’t analyze, just allow yourself to flow up from inside with authentic insight.
- Listen without assumptions. This removes preconceived thinking and filters of where the conversation is going and how it will end up based on your past experiences. Let each new experience be a new experience.
- Avoid agreement listening. The “Yes, I know what you mean.” Listening. This prevents us from learning what is new and truly understanding where one is coming from.