“The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.” William Hazlitt
Have you ever spoken with a person and had a feeling that they are not really hearing that what you are saying. They are listening, all right, but are they hearing you? Are they there? Present?
You talk with someone, and they reply to something that is definitely not what you said. Obviously they have not heard what you actually said. They are responding to what they thought you said, or what they thought you were going to say – starting to prepare the response even before you were finished speaking.
Or perhaps they were simply not paying any attention whatsoever; only feigning taking part in a dialogue, while really busy engaging in one way communication; preaching, delivering a sales pitch or a propaganda speech on the topic, or simply talking about themselves, while clumsily attempting to hide it by “paraphrasing” what you didn’t say, and continuing with a “let’s talk a little bit more about me” spiel :-).
This failure of one party to hear what the other is saying obviously happens in a lot of different situations. Ranging from the business meeting, the doctor patient talk, the therapeutic talk, the bedside chat, the talk between friends, the talk between lovers. And everywhere it is detrimental. A lot of people don’t even realise they are doing this. For many, this is a part of default behaviour.
Sometimes what is going on is too much internal dialogue interfering with the conversation. Internal dialogue can sometimes defeat its own purpose. In its attempt to prepare a good answer, it can get so loud in doing so that you don’t hear what is being said on the outside, you just wait for a more or less appropriate pause in the stream of noises which escape the other person’s mouth so that you can interject with whatever your internal dialogue has come up with. If this is what you are doing, you are not engaging in a dialogue … with anyone but yourself.
The antidote is manifold. In the business context there are simple information gathering tools that can elevate communication from unspecified unclarity to high quality; these are the sort often taught on the first day in a proper NLP training. But in the realms of the soul to soul conversation it often starts with a deeper attitude shift, with the awakening of the intention to really hear the other party.
There is a nice expression. “A heart with ears”. And that is something we all need once in a while. Someone who really hears what we are saying. Someone who listens with understanding. Without interpreting. Without judging. Just listens and understands, or listens with the deep intent to understand. Anyone can cultivate this skill. It simply boils down to having the intent.
There is an old story about mother Theresa that comes to mind. A journalist asked her what she said to God when she prayed. Her answer: “I don’t speak, I listen.” The journalist asked: “And what does God say, when you listen?” Mother Theresa answered: “He also listens.”
With this in mind, may we invite you to consider the following. While conversing with people this week, make a decision to really give them a part of the most valuable resource there is: your full attention. To both listen and hear.
From the heart, sending you oceans of love,
Your two listening train-ears
Lidija and Thomas
Lidija Markovic– NLP Trainer (Classic & New Code)
Thomas Björge– NLP Trainer (Classic & New Code), NLP Coach
© Momentum Strategies 2013