“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
~ Ernest Hemingway
Have you ever felt that ouch that hits you right in the heart or gut, when you are expressing a concern, and the other person completely ignores what you are saying?
When others do not listen to us, it is easy to feel dismissed—and hurt. Our desire for wanting to be heard is not necessarily about needing to be right, just to be acknowledged for our thoughts. When we are listened to, we feel respected, which builds trust.
Healthy, reciprocal relationships offer a space for each person and viewpoint to be heard.
In these distracted times, the art of listening seems to have moved further down the list of caring well for others.
As Stephen R. Covey says in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Frustrated, you may feel like you need to scream to be heard (which never works). Some of us “lose it” at times, particularly if feeling highly stressed. You can feel anger, but you are never heard in anger. The other person typically withdraws to protect from feeling attacked.
Take time to regroup before you deliver your disappointment in not being heard. Then, thoughtfully deliver your message in a tone that invites discussion.
By learning to pause —to sit back and reflect—you also can ponder where others are coming from in their unique perspectives.
Additionally, embracing the power of pause helps us learn to listen to inner guidance and OURSELVES that leads us forth in more empowering ways.
Learn more in my recent article, “The Power of Pause,” published in Brainz Magazine, an online global publication that covers business, technology, leadership and personal development topics.
It also helps to ask, when not feeling listened to, and deferring to another:
- WHAT AM I NOT HEARING FROM WITHIN THAT I NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO (such as feeling left out, or not safe, or hurting)?
- IS THERE AN UNEXPRESSED NEED I HAVE (maybe even from a very long time ago when someone did not listen so you became afraid to ask for what you needed, and squelched your desires)?
- WHERE AM I GIVING MY POWER AWAY VERSUS HONORING MY OWN GUT INSTINCTS (and allowing the other person to run the show versus have your wants or opinions taken into consideration)?
One of the greatest gifts we can offer another is our presence. In fact, Ralph G. Nichols, a scholar known as “The Father of Listening,” says:
understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”
Many of us are works in progress in learning to listen well. Sometimes circumstances in our lives thrust others or us into being “energy hogs,” where the conversation becomes one-way.
I have been guilty of taking up too much time in conversation, just as those in my circle have done during pivotal moments in their lives. When facing a crisis or challenge, we may draw the focus to ourselves, which is okay during those times.
Still, it helps to make a conscious effort to return the listening favor. If not in better balance in conversation over time, between give and take, you may need to set some boundaries, or find people of capacity who offer mutuality.
And, if others run or disappear when you speak your truth or share a need, you may need to let them go, or provide space for the relationship to flourish in more balanced ways going forward.
To fully be there for another, listen well, with patience, not urgency.
Listening well is an act of acceptance and kindness we offer another. It requires the discipline to put aside our own agenda to hear what another is saying, not just in words, but the underlying feelings seeking expression.
Sometimes it means taking in the body language of another. Do their facial expressions match the words being uttered? Can you sense the underlying pain beyond the worried look on another’s face? Did you notice their posture, or sense of calm or anxiety?
I also love these 7 Effective Ways to Make Others Feel Important
(From Roy T. Bennett’s book, The Light in the Heart):
- Use their name.
- Express sincere gratitude.
- Do more listening than talking.
- Talk more about them than about you.
- Be authentically interested.
- Be sincere in your praise.
- Show you care.
Listening well tops the list as a generous gift of love.
Sometimes it may feel easier to purchase something to help someone feel important to you.
Try putting aside your wallet—and offer your time and a good listening ear instead—the next time you want to deepen your connection and show appreciation of someone.
With all the skill sets and techniques I use in coaching to help others feel more empowered and worthy, I believe it is the ways I listen in depth with love and compassion that contributes most significantly to clients’ healings and transformations.
To learn more about my coaching packages, email email@example.com. Spring is a great time to upgrade your life from the inside out—and create a new beginning or life story.
With love and gratitude,
Beth Scanzani offers the above photograph for reflection. She loves the imagery of deep listening along with the symbolism of shadows and green leaves emerging in the forefront. We hold so much in the shadows of our experiences and emotions that gets in the way of our connection and communication with others. Listening deeply creates a space for new growth and new life between us.
Gail Kauranen Jones is an intuitive coach, gifted wordsmith and inspiring teacher who has been leading others through transformation for more than twenty years. She is the author of two books, Cancer as a Love Story: Developing the Mindset for Living, and To Hell and Back…Healing Your Way through Transition. Both books were met with rave reviews on Amazon and elsewhere.
She recently appeared as a guest “worthiness coach” on CBS TV’s award-winning talk show The Doctors and on Sirius FM Radio. Her articles and “tips” on worthiness have also appeared several times in Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper.
She has taught many leading-edge workshops at top spas and wellness centers. She now leads Zoom group coaching programs and is a guest speaker at many related events.
Gail lives a passionate and simple life writing, hiking, connecting in meaningful ways, aligning in joyful collaboration and thriving in nature.