How many times have you said, “I just don’t understand them”? Consider that statement. If you don’t understand, you have not fully listened.
Deep listening is not natural. You, like everyone, have a natural self-focus, and your primary desire is for others to understand you. You believe if others would just listen to you, you could help them. The truth is that if you truly want to help someone, you first need to listen deeply to understand them before offering advice.
People often listen just to get something for themselves. Sometimes they just want information or want to solve a problem. This form of listening is not wrong, it is just insufficient to provide a complete understanding of others.
The key to listening deeply is being fully present. We all know how someone can be physically present and mentally somewhere else, such as a wife talking to husband watching football, or a student in a lecture hall and mentally on vacation.
To listen deeply, you must direct your full attention to the other person. This is a commitment to be curious and interested in the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and perspective. It is a choice to set aside your thoughts, analysis, ideas, stories, and even previous history with that person, and tune into the present. You intentionally increase your awareness so that you can understand their feelings as well as hear their words. Being present is a choice to stay connected until you empathetically understand them and their situation.
To listen deeply, you must resist the desire to formulate a response, criticize, judge, or react. Instead, you must listen just to understand them. When they finish speaking, you share what you heard them say in your own words, and then ask to them to clarify, correct, and confirm until you have fully understood them to their satisfaction!
If you choose to be present and listen deeply, it is likely that the other person will be willing to listen to understand you as well. The agreements that can be created from this type of communication are amazing!