Establishing and nurturing meaningful relationships can be a challenge for many of us. If there were a “secret sauce” that might ease your way, wouldn’t you want to know what it is? And wouldn’t you want to practice it, especially if you knew that improving this skill would not only enrich your relationships but would also bring more peace into your life?
The skill I’m referring to has nothing to do with the words you speak. There is a popular idea that a strained relationship between individuals or groups of individuals is most likely to be healed by one of the parties speaking the right words, but that is not the answer.
What you need to focus on is not what you say, but rather how you listen. The secret sauce is the quality of your listening.
If you fully listen, appreciate, and understand another person without immediately “correcting” with alternative perspectives and opinions, the other person will feel “seen” and “heard” – perhaps for the first time! There will be a “safe space” in which you both feel freer to be more vulnerable – allowing each of you to let more of your real authentic self be seen.
The skill of deep, meaningful listening may come naturally to some folks, but for many of us, it takes a lot of practice – especially if we have busy brains.
You might ask “How do I practice deep, meaningful, listening?” A good first step is becoming aware of what your brain is doing when someone else is speaking. This may take a lot of practice and a sincere commitment to give another person the gift of your fullest attention.
The next step is learning to listen without judgment. What a gift that is! Seeing and hearing someone else without judgment is one of the highest forms of love. This is a gift that each of us craves to receive but often forgets to give.
Truly listening to another person or group is a powerful ingredient in restoring a sense of wholeness in our individual relationships, in our families, in our community, and in our world.
Is this something you have learned to do? Have you been listened to by someone in this way? I’d love to hear the impact it has had on your life.