Part 4 – What to do during the listening conversation

Attention

The greatest gift we can give to one another is our attention.  Attention brings everything together in The Listener’s Way for the benefit of the speaker.  When giving one’s full attention, the speaker knows that they are being heard, even when we say little or nothing.  Remaining as still as possible can increase the level of attention the listener feels.

Eye contact

When listening, eye contact is not staring, it is looking into the speaker’s eyes and then softening the gaze.  When the speaker moves their eyes, in order for them to think or consider something, continue to look at their eyes.  When they return their gaze to you, they will find you are still looking at them.  This is deeply reassuring for them.

Be mindful that your eyes convey your feelings and thinking.  Therefore seek to keep any response to your own feelings and thinking as neutral as possible.

Judgement or rather non-judgement

This is all about listening, not placing our judgements on what the speaker is saying.  Nothing they say is right or wrong, it just is, and allow it to be that way.  Being in the place of non-judgement allows your being to come through without words.

Breathing

Taking a deep breath in and out before speaking can be really helpful, both for you as the listener and for the speaker, as in the silence, more often than not, the speaker feels they are able to speak again.  Breathing enables you to be more fully in the moment and therefore much more aware of what is arising from your own thinking.

Consciously breathing ensures that what does arise is more likely to be in response to, rather than a reaction to something that was said.  Whilst deep listening, mindfully taking a breath can enable one to retain being present.

“Conversely, the only thing the human mind seems not able to multi-task is attention.  It can do lots of other things at the same time, but not if one of them is attention.  This is important for leaders and managers to know.  But it is vital for parents to know.  We cannot do other things and listen at the same time.  Our children, of all ages and until they or we die, need us to listen to them.  Listening is right up there with food and air. And love.  Actually, it is love.”

Nancy Kline (Author of Time to Think and More Time to Think)

By adopting the listening ‘components’ you will improve your listening skills.  However, if you are ‘doing’ listening rather than ‘being’ listening, the speaker will notice and the connection will not be of the same depth or quality.  Simply being truly present with the speaker and not saying anything will be better for them than just doing what I have written here.

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