Did you know that ‘good listening’ has the power to save the world? It’s true. If we use the right listening skills–if we learn how to truly listen–we can save the world. So, let’s talk about what it means to Truly Listen and how to be a good listener.
Lesson 1: Don’t listen to react.
99% of the time we listen to react. When we listen to another person talking, we are already thinking of our response. Have you ever felt frustrated when someone answers you before you even complete your sentence? Almost every single day I have this happen. Their answer is wrong, of course, because they don’t actually know what I was going to ask. This is Mistake #1 — We don’t listen for all the information.
Lesson 1: Truly listening–Using effective listening skills means Don’t listen to react — Listen to get the full information.
Lesson 2: It’s not about you
No matter what a person says, it is not about you. That’s mistake #2, we tend to think everything everyone says is about us. Of course, this is normal human behavior. Our protective self (Ego) is always wondering, “How does this relate to me?”. But everything is not about us. Everything a person says is really about them.
Even if they are specifically talking about you they are really talking about themselves — their perspectives, their values, their judgments, their expectations, their beliefs, their story. If we listen, truly listen, we will learn more about them than us.
Another way of saying Lesson 2: Don’t take it personally — everything a person says is all about them.
Lesson 3: People speak with more than words
Mistake #3 – A major downfall in listening is that we hear only a person’s words. People speak with so many more things: facial expressions, body language, vocal tone, speed of speech, etc. These things can sometimes be more important than the words a person is saying. In fact, a person can communicate much with body language and facial expressions without uttering a single word. As well, sometimes a person’s words won’t match their body language. If we really want to hone our listening skills, we’ll learn how to pay attention to the subtle details in a person’s other types of communication.
Lesson 3: We can find the deeper meaning in a person’s communication by listening to more than just their words.
Lesson 4: Be a safe place
For a person to speak their truth, they need to feel like they will be heard and empathized with — not ridiculed or taken advantage of. They need to feel safe. This is where saving the world comes in. People tend to bottle up their innermost fears and frustrations. While people are silently suffering inside, the world cannot be at peace. People who suffer within tend to cause suffering for others. If people feel safe with us, they are more likely to open their hearts and speak their truth.
Speaking your truth is a healing thing. As is being heard. And this is what the world needs–healing.
Lesson 4: True Listening is a healing power. To Truly Listen, suspend all judgment and use compassion.
Lesson 5: Be strong
The above listening skills require us to be strong, mentally and emotionally. Maybe even sometimes physically. To really hear a person we have to open our own heart. This means making ourselves vulnerable. Vulnerability isn’t weakness, it is strength, for rather than hiding behind our walls we trust in our own ability to handle what life deals us. To truly listen to a person we have to step out of the equation to hear the other person completely. We have to remove ourselves from our own insecurities and stand with a deep sense of self-assurance.
Lesson 5: True Listening means not only opening your ears, but opening your heart, mind and soul.
Why Good Listening skills can save the world…
People need to be free to speak their truth and to be heard. We all need to feel safe and validated. If everyone was able to speak and be heard — really heard — our sorrows and suffering would heal. Don’t get me wrong, if everyone started speaking their truth I think the world would erupt into mayhem…at first…but then I think everyone would realize, “Hey, it’s okay. In the end, it’s all okay!” And then peace would erupt on the face of the planet.
So, be a good listener. Practice listening to what a person is truly saying, not with just their words. Practice zipping your lips and just listening for the sake of listening. Practice really listening to yourself — the chatter in your mind, the messages from your own body. Heal the world. Heal yourself.