One of the most difficult things to do in relationship is to listen--truly
listen from your heart without blame, judgment or "you ought toos and you
shoulds." It's also difficult to take the time to listen without allowing
distractions to pull you away from what the other person is saying. It doesn't
even matter if the person you are listening to is baring their soul or not, It's
incredibly important to stay present, interested and focused on that person.
How many times have you been talking to someone and they reach around to tuck in
a loose tag that's hanging off your shirt or pick a loose thread off your
sweater right in the middle of your conversation?
This might seem like a trivial thing but what it really says is that in that
moment they weren't listening to what you were saying. They were thinking about
that loose tag or thread and how they could fix it.
All of us want to feel loved, respected and honored. And one way we have found
to have this is to love, respect and honor someone else. We found that listening
without interrupting the other shows respect and also builds trust. What a
simple concept, but how hard it is to do.
Something that is even more difficult to do is to listen to someone when It's
uncomfortable to do so. When there are conflicts or resentments in a
relationship that haven't been dealt with yet, there is an emotional charge that
is present and that makes it difficult to stay focused on the present moment.
In that time you're not really focused on the other person and what he or she is
saying. You are focused on your emotions or your attempts to avoid pain.
Another difficult situation is when you have preconceived prejudices and
judgments of the person. Our judgments build walls even in the healthiest of
relationships. When you are trying to listen to someone with whom there have
been challenges, it requires you to listen with unconditional love in that
moment. That doesn't mean you have to agree with everything they say. But, it
does mean forgetting yourself and
your issues while they are talking. We are so quick to rush in and prove we are
right, that all we do is create more distance.
So, how do you really listen--without judgment or coming from your own agenda?
It's like the symphony director said when he was asked, "how do you get to
Carnegie Hall?" He said, "practice."
Start with focusing your attention on the check-out person at the grocery store
or the waiter or waitress at your favorite restaurant. Engage them in a short
conversation and REALLY listen to what they have to say. When you get brave you
can try a family member with whom you have some unhealed issues.
Practice by listening without needing to respond from your frame of reference.
Hear what they have to say from their point of view. It's amazing what can be
healed when you do this. As Stephen Covey points out in his book, The seven
habits of Highly effective people, it's important to seek first to understand,
then be understood. When you do this the walls and defenses crumble and healing
can take place.
Sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is to just listen with your
heart. So this week practice listening and coming from love in your
relationships. When you do, we know you'll see a difference.