Listening to Communicate

When is the last time you really listened- not listened to respond, not listened to tell a similar story, not listened to get something- just listened? Listened to acknowledge, listen to observe, listened just to get to know someone?
Every one of our brains works differently, and we all have our strengths and weaknesses- but one thing I notice about people far and wide, is most of us are quick to jump to defending ourselves. We interrupt someone’s story and say we have good intentions of connecting, or we say we’re excited, or we say it’s just how we are.

We all have our burdens to bear, but the truth is that to connect to another being, especially a silent being, the responsibility is on US to change. Speaking is hard for me. I struggled for years with fumbling over words, especially if I hadn’t practiced them before hand – but teaching people is my job- it isn’t enough for me to say I have good intentions if the person I’m teaching can’t read my mind. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to teach others how I’d like to learn, but have had to really listen to what others need- by paying attention to those subtle cues that they’re engaged or not, seem confused or not, and just listening. It’s up to us to communicate with the learner, and if we can’t listen, we can’t really communicate.

To start with, just practice awareness- do you feel yourself wanting to jump in with that story? That’s ok, just notice it. No judgements. Do you feel your mind wandering when someone talks, waiting for the topic to get back to you? It’s ok, it’s pretty dang normal. You’re not bad, you’re human. But practicing non judge mental awareness is the key to practicing and achieving real listening and communication skills.

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