I had a friend in my early 20s who everyone adored whenever they met him. They thought he was the most interesting and delightful guy they’d ever spoken with. They gushed all over him and, after meeting him, always spoke highly of him.
I was fascinated by this phenomenon, so I played close attention to what he was doing in order to learn from him.
I never ever forgot what I observed.
When my friend engaged with someone—whether it was a stranger at a coffee shop, a neighbor, the waitress, people at a party, me, his family—all he did was listen.
He asked stimulating questions to the person who was speaking to him, and was genuinely interested in what they had to say.
What fascinated me the most was that he rarely spoke about himself and, when the conversation was over, the person believed he was the most compelling person they’d ever met without really knowing anything about him.
What he did was make the person he was speaking to feel great about his or herself just because he was present and listened attentively.
This is a rarity. People feel validated even if they aren’t aware of what’s making them feel so awesome about themselves.
Ultimately, what every wants is to feel heard, seen and loved.
When I was getting my Masters degree in counseling psychology, the very first communication skill we were taught was heart-centered listening.
One person was told to talk about something going on in their life and the other person was told to do nothing else but rest in their heart and listen.
It seemed so easy. But really, it wasn’t.
To listen fully with presence and in our heart center, giving full attention to the person without self-referencing, while paying attention to where our own mind goes and not letting it drift onto anything else, completely staying attentive and genuinely interested in what the other person without bringing ourselves into it, is one of the greatest life skills we have the opportunity to master.
Heart-centered listening makes a transformative difference in ALL relationships.
In couples counseling, there’s a technique called, “The Talking Stick”. When one person is holding the talking stick, the other person simply listens. No interrupting, no correcting, no defensiveness. Heart-centered listening only.
When the other person is complete, the other person takes the talking stick.
Especially in reaction, this is sometimes that can be very hard to do, but it’s crucial to working through any communication difficulties.
When we listen with our heart, we develop compassion. We learn to not take other things so personally.
And, after some practice, we can see that what the other is going through has nothing to do with us, even if they appear to be blaming us. It’s their story and we can watch it as an observer without getting caught up in it.
Many times, when we interrupt or try to be heard in a bid to feel validated by the other person, or because we simply want to state our case, we make the situation harder rather than just listening to what the other person is going through.
We don’t have to understand them, necessarily. We just need to hear.
And rather than try to fix what they’re going through, or change them, or prove something, or attempt to make them think or feel something different, or focus more on what WE need to be heard, validated and understood, we get to offer the gift of helping another feel validated.
THIS is how we make the situation better and relieve problems and create loving, caring connections. It’s an act of selflessness.
But it’s more than that. It’s love.
And when we love, we are loved back.
Watch this hilarious video called It’s Not About The Nail. I don’t think there’s a person who can’t relate to this!
Wishing you love, care, and compassion in all of your meetings, connections and relationships!