When you go to a communication skills course or read a book about communication skills, the first thing you will notice is the importance of listening skills. I have given courses in communication skills for the last 20 years * and let me tell you REALLY LISTENING is hard for people. You would think it comes natural to us, but nothing is farther from the truth.
The biggest obstacle to good listening that connects people on a deeper level is ‘getting yourself out-of-the-way’. I found most people listen while having their own world-view running in the back of their minds checking every statement to whether they agree or disagree. Does what you say fit into my belief system or not?
That kind of listening makes it all about you, and not about the person who is sharing something about his or her life. No wonder the most uttered complaint I hear is ‘S/he is never listening to me’ while the listener is very much taken by surprise asserting ‘of course I am’. It’s like two ships passing in the dark: they may greet each other with a ‘hoot, hoot’ but never really meet. (Which is actually a good thing when you are a ship!)
Listening to another person in a way that connects you has nothing to do with agreement or disagreement. Listen to the feeling that is behind the words. Listen like you would listen to a violin concerto or the song of the birds. Listen with the ears of a child that is captured by the story that is told. Only when you clear your mind of judgements and pre-conceived ideas while you are listening will you be able to learn something new. Only then will you have new insights. Only then will you grow. Only then will the other person feel listened to!
* check out my next course in communication skills and understanding self and others!