The Art of Listening

22 Mar

Listening – really listening to another person while they’re talking – requires that one’s attention is on the person who is speaking. Elementary, you say? Maybe. But in the past few days I’ve observed amongst a group of people with whom I do business on a regular basis the alarming lack of attention to the speaker. In fact, I’ve watched as people talk over another – as though they weren’t even there.

The best sales people are good listeners. The best salesperson is going to ask questions to find out their client’s needs and desires. The best salesperson is going to be dedicated to finding a way to fulfill those needs and desires in the best way possible. If you take good care of a client, they become a customer for life. If you don’t, they’ll most likely not be back.

Listening requires being present and paying attention to something outside of our own mind’s yama-yama.

I took part in an exercise years ago that involved pairing up with someone and looking into their eyes without saying anything. Taking turns as the Perceiver and the Seen, the goal of the exercise was to silently acknowledge the person we were looking into. The premise was that many people suffer from feelings of inadequacy because they weren’t “seen” at birth. Their arrival was not celebrated. So they move through their lives feeling starved for attention or missing something, or unworthy.

The exercise was powerful. Some cried. Others laughed. But the overall effect was profound. Some felt they had never been acknowledged as having importance, and this simply exercise offered a tremendous healing.

When we’re in conversation with another, it’s important to focus on that person. That’s true especially for children. How often does an adult pay partial attention to the child that trying so hard to get their attention? If their timing is bad, it’s okay to say “you’re interrupting right now” or some other appropriate direction without making the child wrong or bad. But then it’s important to come back around and give your undivided attention to that little person at some point and give validity to their need.

People crave being listened to. My mother used to grocery shop three times a week just to “visit” with the cashiers who knew her and always had a smile for her and asked about her dogs, and how were things going. They were genuinely interested in her, and it helped her to feel cared about.

The best gift we can give to another is our full attention, because that’s saying to them, “You’re important. What you have to say is important. I value you.”

The art of listening is just another aspect of Respect. In a world where too often people shout at each other without hearing what the other person is saying, we need to foster all the Respect we can, whenever and wherever we can.   -Deborah Adler

“Mutual respect is the foundation of genuine harmony. We should strive for a spirit of harmony, not for political or economic reasons, but rather simply because we realize the value of other traditions.” – Dalai Lama

“We are aware on all levels of our inner-actions with the Source Of All. We see it in Nature. The Seasons, the Sunrise and Sunset, the Winds, the Clouds, the Rains. Creator is in the cry of the newly born, and the scream of the Mother in birth. It is in our children’s laughter and our tears, in our songs and in our work. We see it in all the creatures that live in this world with us. We see it in all mankind. Where is God not?” –Grandmother’s Legacy by Pa’Ris’Ha*

*© Copyright 2002 Parisha. All Rights Reserved.  © Copyright 2007 Parisha Online. All Rights Reserved.


DISCLAIMER: All the opinions expressed in any articles, blog posts and Internet content written by me are my own and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of any individuals or organizations with whom I associate.

©2011 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved. (NOTE: ALL quotes and/or materials from other authors or sources remain the sole property of the original authors/source.)

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