The Gift of Listening

“What we actually have to offer one another is the simple but daring contribution of our genuine presence. Techniques and theories abound and we can learn half a dozen in an hour, but it is in the pulsing contact between living things that healing and beauty take place. Presence is being present – a state impregnated with an open-ended curiosity, relaxation, and power that comes from seamlessly knitting together one’s mind, body, and spirit.
~ Richard Strozzi Heckler in Holding the Center  

We’ve all been on the phone with people who while talking with us are busy typing, or watching TV, or doing laundry (most of us have occasionally been that person:(.  How do you feel on the other end, especially when you need to be heard? Do you feel diminished, unheard, unimportant?

A client once sent me a card that I love.  It says: “Most people just need a good listening to.” I find that’s true in the work that I do. People seem to unravel their own problems when they feel really heard. When people feel listened to they become unstuck, and are able to grow. There is a magic, a healing that happens.

What would it take for you to be truly present in conversations, to be truly present to your spouse, your boss, your kids, co-workers, the check out person at Starbucks?  What difference would it make?

I love what Richard Strozzi Heckler says about Presence: a state impregnated with an open-ended curiosity.  Who is this person who is sharing their thoughts with us? What are their passions? Their dreams? Their story? What is under the words they are saying to us?

“This stupid teacher assigns too much homework.” says the child. If we listen carefully we may hear:”I don’t know if I can finish it all and get to soccer practice.”

Truly connecting gives us joy. Try these ideas to get started:
~ Stop what you’re doing and look the person in the eye (if on the phone close your eyes, or soften your gaze so you can focus on the voice).
~ Take a deep breath and let go of what was on your mind.
~ Listen with curiosity.
~ Ask questions.
~ Let your body language communicate you’re listening.
~ Clarify.

One of the most powerful skills of listening is to feedback to someone what you heard. It’s a way of checking the accuracy and letting someone know they were really heard.

Listen with the intent of hearing. Really hearing – not fixing, not changing, not thinking about what you’ll say next. Listen with your mind and body and spirit – and watch magic happen.

 Try this in your every day life, with family and friends over the holidays. Give the gift of your Presence. I’d love to hear your results.


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