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The Key to Great Listening - Being Present

How often have you thought “I just don’t understand him” or “They really just don’t make sense”? The reason you don't understand is because you have not listened. Good listening is not natural. Being naturally self-centered, your default focus in communication is you. You want to be heard, understood and appreciated. If others would just listen to you, you could help them.

Even when you do listen, it is typically to get some information or solve a problem. This is not wrong, but this way of listening to others is insufficient to bring about a true understanding. The good news is that there is a way of listening that leads to deep understanding and the potential for amazing results!

A key to unlocking deep listening is learning how to be present. Present means to be 100% engaged, body, mind, and spirit, and not somewhere else. You know how you can be physically one place and mentally somewhere else. How many wives try to communicate with their husbands as they watch the football game? How many students have been physically in the lecture hall and mentally on vacation?

If you want to be present, you need to choose to put all your thought and attention on that person in that moment. You make that person your priority and place your entire interest in who they are, what they are thinking, how they are feeling, and what is important to them. It is setting aside all your preconceived thoughts and history with that person and tuning into that present moment. You raise your awareness so that you can understand their feelings as well as the information they are sharing. You know you are present when you enter their experience.

I challenge you to choose to be present during your next conversation. Tune out everything but that person and listen with the goal to understand them. Refuse to contaminate your listening by formulating a response. Relax, focus, and listen to understand before being understood. When they have finished, reflect what you heard and ask them to clarify, correct, and confirm. Be willing to listen again until you have fully understood them to their satisfaction! If you listen deeply, it is likely that the other person will be open to listening to you. You will be amazed at what agreements can then be created from mutual understanding.

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