Have you ever truly been listened to?
Have you ever had someone give you 100% of their attention?
Perhaps they didn’t even say anything, or offer any advice. But they just deeply listened to you.
It’s one of the most precious gifts you can give someone. Your full attention.
Sometimes that can mean listening to someone discuss a problem. Without thinking about what advice you are going to give them. Or what you would like to say.
Other times it can mean listening to someone with an open and fresh mind. Perhaps they are telling you something that you have heard many times before. Can you listen with a beginners mind? Is there something you could pick up from the story that you haven’t heard before?
Deep listening is one of the ultimate ways you can show respect to someone. To show them you believe what they have to say is valuable, and worth listening to.
The goal of deep listening is to be touched by the other person and to hear the essence of what he or she is saying.
Following a conversation with someone, how much would you be able to repeat back of what you heard?
How much were you really listening and paying attention?
And deep listening doesn’t just have to apply when you are having a conversation with someone.
How often do you “tune out” when you are listening to information being given. Assuming that you already know? And that you’ve heard it before?
For me it brings to mind “the 3 defects of the pot” (I heard this during a wonderful dharma talk today).
This can be related to a cooking pot.
The first defect relates to cooking in a dirty pot. If you cook a delicious meal in a pot that has rancid leftovers in it, the meal is never going to taste nice, no matter what beautiful ingredients you use.
In that way, it’s similar to having a lot of preconceived notions about what you are listening to.
The second defect is having an upturned pot.
Which means that you are not listening, or taking anything in.
The third defect is a pot with a hole in it.
You listen to the information being given, but you don’t take it in. It immediately empties from your mind.
Really listening – to someone, or something – can open up your mind to a whole new level of awareness.
“To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words. You listen not only to the ‘music,’ but to the essence of the person speaking. You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow our mind’s hearing to your ears’ natural speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning.”
~ Peter Senge