In this very distracted world, the art of listening is becoming more and more important. Listening is the act of receiving a communication message. We hear with our ears but listening requires concentration. Listening can happen at many levels. Our brain can process the meaning, our heart can process the feeling aspect, and our gut can process the unspoken part, the intuitive aspect. Our eyes are important as well in listening and ultimately, if we are good listeners, we listen with our whole body.
Interesting that the whole body shows up in Albert Mehrabians’s 7-38-55 rule of communication. It indicates that the body language is the predominant factor in communication.
- 55% by body language
- 38% by voice and tone
- 7% by the content or the words spoken
So back to the listening aspect of communication. How to you feel if while communicating to another, the listener pulls out their phone and starts to text? You certainly don’t feel heard and probably feel hurt or worthless on some level. On the other hand, if the listener held eye contact and held the space for you to talk, you would feel worthy, safe and like you matter.
As children probably 97% of us experienced things that left us feeling incomplete. So, we grow up with all sorts of insecurities. When we are in communication with another human being, on an unconscious level what we are really looking for is love, acceptance, being liked for who we are, and a sense of safety. As humans we are looking for connection with other humans and we want to matter. Being connected to other people is the essence of being alive. It’s all about relationship.
So really listening is very important and can be very healing. There are different ways of listening.
- ignoring – not listening at all
- pretend listening
- selective listening
- attentive listening
- the fifth level of listening can be called empathic or active listening
This is where the listener is aware that their mind is reacting in different ways to what they are hearing and are constantly bringing their attention back to the conversation. The focus is 100% on the being who is speaking.
Pointers for empathic or active listening
- Communication involves respect for the human who is speaking and giving them the opportunity to say what they want even though this may be contrary to your beliefs and ideologies.
- Making eye contact.
- Being sensitive to the speaker’s wants, needs and issues.
- Being attentive to what the speaker is saying by really listening with your whole body.
- Not interrupting or fidgeting.
- Being aware that your facial and body language is in a receptive state.
- Not preparing a response while the speaker is talking.
- Paying attention to non-verbal clues or hints.
- Being curious.
- Being present.
- Being transparent.
- Creating trust and openness.
Our world needs so much healing on so many levels. Active or empathic listening could change the world, one conversation at a time.
To your success,