As you are likely well aware, not all listening is created equally. You may already be somewhat familiar with term Active Listening. Wikipedia defines active listening as: the listener fully concentrates, understands, responds and then remembers what is being said.
As a lifelong listener yourself, I assume you are familiar with the acts of formulating your response. Perhaps you’re so engrossed in deciding what you want to say, that you miss crucial information. Or perhaps, you’re trying to pay attention to the person speaking but you’re distracted because you’re worried about forgetting what you’ve already decided what you want to say next.
Go back to that Wikipedia definition: the listener fully concentrates, understands, responds and then remembers what is being said. When is the last time you felt you had someone’s full concentration; that you were understood; received a complete and relevant response and the other person could actually recall the nuances of the conversation later?
When is the last time you listened to someone else like that?
Here’s the real kicker….Have you ever listened to yourself like that? When is the last time you stepped back out of the busyness of your day to day and truly listened? Can we do that right now?
Close your eyes. If you meditate, a few minutes of meditation to calm your mind would be helpful. Just sit. Eyes closed. And listen. Physically listen. Do you hear birds outside? The hum of electricity? A dog barking? Kids playing? Now transfer your ‘listening’ inwards. What do you notice? Are your shoulders tense? Do you feel rushed to move on to something else? What emotions well up? Notice each of these things that you ‘hear’ one at a time and move on to noticing the next thing. Don’t stop to ponder, just become aware and move on. Once you’ve taken inventory, slowly open your eyes.
Did you concentrate fully on what you were telling yourself? Do you feel understood? What will your response be? This is an important part of active listening. If you felt rushed, perhaps you could focus on getting a grip on your busy calendar. If you felt tired, perhaps you could take a nap and make it a point to sleep at least 8 hours each night.
Remember the last step is to remember what was said. In this case, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Remember what you said you needed and honor those things.