Mindful Listening - The #1 Way to Create Deeper Connections and More Meaningful Relationships
Let me introduce you to the power of mindful listening
When was the last time you truly felt listened to? Like, you could sense that the other person was so intently listening that you felt completely understood. They allowed for you to fully speak your mind without judgment, trying to get a word in, or fix your situation?
How did you feel after you left that talk? Pretty amazing, I can imagine. Having a conversation with someone that truly focuses all they have on you and letting you have the floor (no interruptions), is one of the most powerful ways to make deep and lasting connections. Feeling listened to is an integral part of any relationship and is as important as being loved and respected. Oprah sums it up with this quote pretty well:
“I believe three of the most important words anyone can say are not I love you, but I hear you.”
But this is surprisingly easier said than done.
The act of listening seems pretty simple but doing it well takes some effort. The key is to be fully present in the moment (the Now) but with our minds running at 100 mph and the amount of distractions around us, they tend to zap our ability to stay in the present and fully focus.
Say, your partner is having trouble at work and it’s really bothering them. They come to you to vent but all you catch are snippets of their story because you are distracted by the TV playing in the background. Your partner can sense that you didn’t hear what was said (your body language is a dead give-away) and feels hurt. This leads to an argument because you where half-listening while they were sharing a pain-point.
Or, you cut them off mid-story and start suggesting ideas to remedy the situation. They don't feel like they are being fully heard, which causes them to feel frustrated. Even with the best intentions, this leads to an argument because your partner just wants you to listen to them, not fix the situation (I am toooootally guilty of this! I am such a fixer).
To avoid future situations like these, using the power of mindful listening will bring you back to the Now and help you create an open space for someone to talk.
How to practise mindful listening
Remove distractions: turn off the TV and put down your phone
Hear their words with patients and no judgments
Focus on their words instead of your response
Give them time to speak and avoid jumping in mid-sentence
Take a breath before speaking and let their words hang a bit before you start to talk (this silence is when my health coaching clients have most of their a-ha! moments)
Paraphrase back to them what they just said (this is a MAJOR help when you tend to misunderstand each other)
Notice their body language and read between the lines (sometimes they aren't saying what they want to in fear of being judged)
Be honest with them if you cannot focus right now. You are a better listener when you can divert all your attention on them.
We are also so eager to voice our own opinion that we impatiently wait for the other person to finish their sentence just so we can speak. As a result, we miss the central message because we are too busy focusing on our own thoughts and response. When we drift off, we are no longer mindfully listening, which can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunications.
BUT, practicing mindful listening is simple when you use the suggestions above. Just, remember to take a breath and let the other person do the work because in that moment all you have to do is listen.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know below if this is something you've been wanting to work on and if you would like to see more posts like this in the future. 👇🏻