Silence…..and lots of it
Use silence always and often. Silence means you are listening, as long as you are fully present with them. The speaker will really appreciate your silence, they depend on it for their thinking. In the silence, the speaker will not worry that you are not listening because they will be aware of your attention. The anagram of listen is silent!
Curiosity and interest
Become curious of what the speaker is about to say and don’t try to second guess them. In being curious, you will show the speaker how interested you are in what they are saying. You will be surprised and amazed at what the speaker says, when you give them your attention and allow they to think for themselves and share what arises from their thinking.
As you get into really listening, you will notice the conversation deepen to new levels. In doing so it allows the speaker to uncover their deeper thoughts.
In these types of conversations, there always needs to be equality, both as human beings and our ability to think. Contrast this with typical coaching sessions, the expectation is on the coach to have the answers and to fix the other, in these conversations neither happens. The Listener listens and encourages the speaker to think and speak, and then think some more. Each are fully bringing their true gifts to the conversation.
You body language will show that you are thoroughly delighted to be here with them. It should convey that you have nothing else to do in the world except to be here with you right now.
Listen with your ears – what are you hearing?
Listen with your eyes – what are you seeing?
Listen with an open heart – what feelings are your picking up?
Nancy Kline says it best, “To be interrupted is not good. To get lucky and not be interrupted is better. But to know you will not be interrupted allows you to truly think for yourself.” This can be very hard to achieve, but like when meditating, allow the desire to interrupt to arise and pass through you. As not being interrupted is so unusual, the speaker may be surprised at first, and then when they know you are not going to interrupt, you will notice them relaxing, not rushing, settling in to think more deeply. At a neurological level the part of the brain which governs fight, freeze or flight will relax and therefore allow deeper thinking to take place.
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.