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All Spent? Give the Gift of Listening

Posted Jan 06 2010 7:31pm

January 6th, 2010 by Nina AtwoodTell a friend

In relationships, whether it’s work, dating, or friendships, one of the most challenging dynamics is that of communication. Yet ask 100 people to rate themselves, and 99 of them will likely report that they are good communicators. Why the disconnect? Because our skill as communicators, or lack thereof, lies squarely in the psychological ”blind spot” - the aspect of self-awareness that is hidden from us unless we take personal growth seriously and ask others to reflect back what they see.

If you asked your closest friends and family members how effective you are as a listener, what would they say? Would they say that you are a person who promotes understanding between yourself and others? Would they say you are person who is committed to resolving conflict rather than holding grudges and creating divisions in relationships?

By far the most misunderstood and left out area of communication is effective listening. If you want to greatly increase the quality of all of your relationships, take on the lifelong project of becoming a better listener. Here is a short list of listening tips.

Listening isn’t just having your ears open, speaking the same language, and grasping the content of what you heard. Effectively listening involves hearing not only what is spoken, but also what is not spoken, what is “between the lines.” Truly good listeners naturally tune into the subtle nuances of communication - body language, tone of voice, inferences, emotional content, and much more.

Good listeners don’t listen to judge, condemn, fix problems, or debate. Instead, they listen to understand: they make it their goal to stand in the other person’s shoes for a moment, to see the world through that person’s lens, and to affirm that understanding.

So little real listening takes place in the world that many people spends thousands of dollars to see therapists primarily so that they can have the experience of being really heard. It turns out that being deeply listened to and understood is powerfully healing. Imagine if you could spread some of that healing around in your world? Why not give the gift of listening to someone you love today?

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