Listen Intently, Listen Deeply
Most of you have heard how grown-ups talk in Peanuts movies, “Mwahmwahmwah, wah wah mwah”. I must confess that on occasions, I hear those same types of sounds when others are talking to me. I am distracted and fail to listen with intention. Other times, I only get the surface of the conversation, but don’t listen to the true meaning and diagnose the root message of what the person is really trying to say. One of the best ways you can make a difference in people’s lives is to truly listen to what they are saying.
How to listen intently
The more I deliberately challenge myself to listen better, the more I see others approach me for questions, conversations, and advice. This isn’t by accident. People love to be listened to well. It helps them solve problems, gain clarity about their own thoughts, and even relieve stress by “talking it through”. A wise person (I forget who) once told me, “Sometimes the best advice that you can give is to not say a word and just listen.” Listening intently takes practice which can then develop into a habit.
- Start with eliminating distractions. Turn off that cell phone, lock your computer, turn off the TV. Do whatever it takes to turn your focus on the person. I am truly blessed when we sit at the dinner table with no distractions. It allows me to focus on my family and truly hear about whatever they want to talk about.
- Make eye contact. This can be very uncomfortable at first if you are out of practice. However, watching their face, seeing the words as well as hearing the words that are saying helps the message to sync in.
- Let them finish. This is my biggest struggle. I find myself finishing other people’s sentences, jumping to conclusions, and overstepping my boundaries just to get my ideas in.
- Repeat what you heard them say when appropriate. What you heard is not always what they said. Also, when you repeat for clarification or understanding, the person who is talking may realize that what they were saying needs more definition or more clarity.
In the bible, there are lots of areas where it is written "to those who have ears, let him hear." Well we all have ears, so we should be smart and tune in to what is being said.
How to listen deeply
This type of listening happens over several conversations, by different people, and by different mediums. We need to be searching for that still small voice that is delivering us a message for our benefit.
- Don’t just listen to one source. Change the radio dial to hear multiple points of view. Find value for yourself in what is being communicated and take the best from each.
- Try and find that quiet place where you can just listen and ponder what you have heard.
- Hear the message being sent by those around you. Sometimes it will not be direct and pieced amongst various conversations.
- Fine tune how you hear. I love the analogy of how a mixing board for music can just filter out the high notes and get the rhythm and heartbeat of the song. Truly get to the living essence of the conversation and focus intently on it.
Are you listening intently and deeply?