The Power of Listening By Amy Goldberg

When I was growing up, I thought everyone was an amazing listener. I thought that people were really intently interested in what others had to say. That they paused, reflected and then gave insightful feedback. Where you felt really heard.

Then, I realized it was my Mother and Father who were amazing listeners. They were constantly praised for their incredible listening skills. People would go out of their way to comment on how great listeners they both were.

Which is great, right! however, it was a crushing moment for me. I realized how, in fact, most people were actually horrible listeners.  Horrible. They were listening to answer and/or just wanting to talk. Many times, I felt hijacked in a conversation where it was all one-sided. Not only hijacked, exhausted.

The feeling of being really listened to is quite something. Have you ever spoken to someone who made you feel like you were the only person in the world at that moment? Who seemed truly engaged and interested in every word that came out of your mouth? How did that make you feel? Important? Understood? This is the power of deep listening.

Deep listening is more than a valuable social habit; it is a transformative communication tool. With deep listening, you are not only allowing yourself the time and space to fully absorb what the other person is saying, but you can also actually encourage him or her to feel heard and to speak more openly and honestly. This is the key to developing a rapport with others. Wow! I miss that.

Listening is the act of mindfully hearing and attempting to comprehend the meaning of words spoken by another person. I mean, do we do this? Listening also is a key ingredient for building strong leadership and healthy relationships.

Listening takes a lot of practice. Even though we develop our ability to hear while still in utero, genuine listening is a skill that takes longer to develop.

You can’t really fake listening either. You need to be fully present. Listening takes eye contact, body engagement, and good questions. Genuine listening is stilling your body and mind so that you can be fully present. And yet who has the time?

Not everyone deserves to be listened to either.  We tend to be turned off by those who are self-righteous, condescending, not willing to be open-minded, basing opinions on propaganda, performing rather than speaking from the heart.

So, what is it to be a good listener? Here are some great quotes to motivate you to become a better listening. I hope this helps:

“I think part of my gift is that I love listening.”
– Eric Clapton

“ You never really understand a person until you consider things from his/her point of view.”
– Harper Lee

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk”
– Doug Larson

“Listening is being able to be changed by the other person.”
– Alan Alda

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”

– Jimi Hendrix

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But when you listen, you may learn something new.”
– Dalai Lama

Do you feel heard? Please feel free to comment.

I’m listening.

Amy Goldberg