Are you really listening?

How many times have you been in a conversation and you are just waiting for the person to finish talking so you can say something back? I am so guilty of that, I’m half listening and part of me is thinking, “I have something really interesting to say here that totally relates”

As part of my role as a Health & Wellbeing Coach with the NHS I recently had some training with the Samaritans on How to Manage Suicidal Conversations. A heavy and challenging topic but one that was of such value, and at the core of the training was the notion that to be effective at handling someone in a vulnerable and volatile situation what you need most, beyond anything, is to be able to listen, to really listen to them.

And it struck me that really listening to someone is an act of upmost respect and consideration, and that if we adopted a more active style of listening in every day life, in work and play, then that could lead to some really powerful and positive interactions.

5 Levels of Listening:

1. Waiting to speak  (the classic!)

2. Giving your own experiences

3. Giving your advice and opinion

These are the most common ways we listen. Number 1 is the classic and the one that is least effective when aiming to really listen to someone.
2 and 3 are helpful in allowing people to get to know us and so do serve us well a lot of the time BUT they are really all about US.

4. Listening and asking for more

5. Intuitive, reading between the lines

4 and 5 are the next level of listening, the type of listening that is going to help the person you are talking to feel as though they are really being heard and valued, and encourages them to open up.
Listening and asking for more rather than jumping in with your own experience or opinion, and reading between the lines means taking notice of things like body language and tone of voice.

It also offers you the opportunity to learn something more, to open up your own mind and be receptive to whatever you hear without having your own ideas or agenda.

Does listening in this way sound like something that could benefit your interactions with people on a professional and personal level?

I’m definitely going to spend more time trying to listen on levels 4 and 5 and see how that effects the conversations I have and the relationships I cultivate in all areas of my life.

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