Improve your relationships with active listening skillsMar 18, 2021
Have you ever been talking to someone and sensed that they were a million miles away even though they’re looking straight at you while you spoke?
Everyone is guilty of doing it at some point or another.
We’re there having a conversation with someone, and while they’re speaking our mind wanders to the ever-important matter of “What should I watch tonight on Netflix?”
Then they pause and your brain goes, “Oh sh*t! What did she just say?” And then you feel like the world’s biggest a-hole.
Hearing what someone is saying, is different than listening under their words.
In coaching we call this “level 3 listening”. This type of listening takes in more than just words.
It’s incredibly important to me that I feel understood when I speak, and I bet you feel the same way. Because sharing our (true) selves can be vulnerable, it’s necessary to learn and practice the skill of active listening.
In her article “How To Practice Active Listening” at VeryWellMind, Amy Morin, LCSW, says:
“Active listening serves the purpose of earning the trust of others and helping you to understand their situations. Active listening comprises both a desire to comprehend as well as to offer support and empathy to the speaker…. the goal is simply for the other person to be heard, and perhaps to solve their own problems.”
This skillset will create more harmonious relationships in all areas of your life – personally, professionally, and otherwise.
You know we’re all about dropping into our bodies and grounding ourselves to have access to more presence. This applies to active listening, too.
And like any other skill, it takes not only presence, but practice.
On the PostivePsychology.com website, Birgit Ohlin offers six specific tips for active listening:
- Nonverbal involvement – This includes looking at the speaker, nodding your head, making sounds that indicate your attentiveness.
- Pay attention to the speaker, not your own thoughts – Your mindful presence allows you to notice the nuances in their voice, their body language, and their emotions, all of which help you understand them and their story.
- Practice non-judgment – The ability to receive the message is more important than responding, trying to solve their problems, or agreeing or disagreeing with what they’re saying.
- Tolerate silence – Silence is powerful, so don’t rush to fill it. It allows both parties to reflect on what’s being said. Allow the breakthroughs to come through moments of silence.
- Paraphrase – Occasionally repeating in your own words what the speaker has said is a tool to help ensure that you’re understanding what they’re saying, and creates a greater sense of closeness.
- Ask questions – Instead of turning the conversation to you immediately after they finish speaking, start by asking open-ended questions, which can uncover hidden reasoning and further reflection. You can also use this as an opportunity to show that you understand what they may be feeling, which shows empathy and respect.
Which relationship could you improve INSTANTLY if you practiced active listening?
I invite you to explore this idea through a few journaling prompts.
Find a quiet space away from all distractions, set a timer so that you write for at least 11 minutes, and see what you uncover.
- I would like more harmony in my relationship with _________ (name one person)
- I have resisted doing so because...
- I’m committed to practicing active listening in my next conversation. By doing so I am honoring my value of _________.
- (in detail) Describe your ideal desired outcome from a conversation that honors all the 6 tips from above.
Active (level 3) listening has changed my ability to be with people, hear under their words, and show up as my most present self.
Send me a message and let me know how this process goes for you. I’d love to hear all about it :)