A couple of weekends ago, I went to Peace Village for a retreat entitled Listening: An Act of Love. The retreat could have not come at a better time because I was going through some issues of the heart and I did not know how to listen to myself. During our introductions, we were asked why we chose to come to this particular retreat. I said that I often feel like I am a good listener to other people's problems or desires but not of my own. I have spent too much of my time serving others or some other part of myself while simultaneously doing a disservice to myself. I do not want anyone to think that I am blaming anyone else for my shortcomings, because I did all this knowingly but without realization or peace.
And the realization was that I am not a good listener and still am not; it is all a work in progress :) One retreat will not make me a good listener, but it was the first step that I needed.
As common sense will tell you, the first rule of listening is silence. As obvious as this may seem, it really isn't that clear. The mouth has to be silent in order to listen, but so does the mind. It happens to all of us, while someone is talking about whatever, something they said triggers us to think about a movie we rented and forgot to return, or we think about our rebuttal, or the wonderful advice that just came to us. All these thoughts take away from giving someone our undivided attention because we are distracted, offended, or want to be a savior to that person's problems/desires. Silence is truly golden when we have the ability to silence our thoughts...
I also learned that the role to listening is to appreciate that EVERYONE in their core has an inner most essence of wisdom and that the listeners role is not to rescue or to give solutions but to help them to recall their core: their wisdom. So, the listeners role is to listen and allow "the talker" to come across their own solutions... When we offer our own solutions, we take away from their own process and we subtlety come across snobbishly because we act like we know and they do not... There are times when our friends or peers ask us for our advice, but most times people just want someone to talk to and listening is our gift to them. Think about it, how many times have you offered advice to someone and they did not take it... Was it really their advice?
There are several barriers that make us ineffective listeners. To lift those barriers we have to watch our thoughts from the following:
1. Early Habits: Behaviors that were taught to us in the past by our parents or relationships throughout our lives.
2. Few Rewards: Think about it, there were few rewards granted for being a good listener. If anything, we were often punished as children for not listening. We live in a society where we resist listening because we are taught that Speaking represents action and power and listening connotes weakness and apathy...
3. Assumption: We assume that others have had the same experiences as us and that they feel the same way about those experiences.
4. Judgmental: We listen and speak with judgment and we shouldn't...
A quote from Mother Teresa: "If you judge people, you have no time to love them"
5. Beliefs: We are not aware how our beliefs influence what we value and our attitudes toward certain behaviors will not allow us to see their point of view.
6. Listening means to lay aside your own views and values in order to enter another's world.
7. Notice your interest and non-interest. When you are not interested we tend to drift off- watch that. When your interested you become more involved- watch that to.
8. Listen for understanding, not agreement, disagreement, or belief
9. It is a myth to believe that speaking only represents power.
10. When our emotions are involved listening efficiently suffers and our emotions distract us from what is being conveyed by the speaker. "the talker".
11. When your motivation in communication is to win the discussion or to change the other person, you are doomed to FAIL.
12. Cultural differences/ Prejudice (refer to beliefs)
13. Past Experiences
14. Drama Triangle: Where you listen through the perspective of being Persecutor, Rescuer. or a Victim... Rather that listening through the perspective of "I'm ok- You're ok"
Persecutor thinks: "I am okay - You are not ok"
Rescuer thinks: I am okay- You are no okay, so let me help"
And the Victim thinks "I am not okay- You are okay" or "I am not okay- and You are not okay" - always defensive
The idea is to realize these patterns and to change them through first realization and then practice
REALIZATION BRINGS TRANSFORMATION
"Listening to others means you are listening to yourself"
If you have any questions or comments about anything I have written, please, please, please comment me. I promise I will be the best listener I could be :) I will love to continue this discussion...
Anyway, I recommend this book (Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman) if you want to transform your thinking... Take over your thoughts, don't let them take over you
Be Well in Writing,