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When was the last time someone really listened to you?

When was the last time someone really listened to you?

When was the last time someone really listened to you?

You know, when you had 100% of their attention? Where they hung on your every word?

Where they didn’t butt in, impose their opinion, finish your sentence, jump to conclusions, judge, or even look at their smartphone five times…

Whether it is through being caught up in the craziness of life and chronic multitasking, via our changing brains thanks to social media or because we are pursuing our own agendas, in this increasingly hectic world, many of us have lost our ability to focus and actively listen. On top of that, some of us have given up trying to be heard.

It wasn’t until I commenced a life-coaching course and delved into mindfulness that I realized how poor my own listening had become. I had allowed myself to get so caught up in social media networks, blogging, phone calls and text messages, trying to keep on top of four email accounts, maintaining a relationship, a house, a family, my health…I thought I was multitasking like a boss, but with my mind on so many things, my former strong point— listening—had been compromised. In a nutshell, I sucked.

“When listening falters and ultimately fails…people become less and less effective, incapable of realizing their visions in reality.” – Genership: Beyond Leadership toward liberating the creative soul, David Castro

As a high-performer who prided herself in her communication abilities, I was falling down in a critical area.

But that wasn’t all. I had the sudden realization that I didn’t feel like I was truly being listened to, which was why I was so unhappy in my job. Things weren’t going according to plan, rather, I wasn’t even sure what the plan was anymore, or whose plan I was following! And on top of that, I wasn’t listening to what I wanted in life! I had been so caught up in doing what everyone else wanted me to do at any given time, what everyone else thought I was good at, what everyone else thought was best for me—that I had just ended up shutting up and shutting down.

As soon as I started focusing on actively listening, on observing, on honoring people (including myself) with silence, my world and my relationships started to change.

“We can seek to create a dialogue with the world in which we strive for silence and let the world speak to us, while limiting our interference with what we observe. Our knowledge cannot eliminate the observer effect, but by minimizing it, we can gain access to critical understanding and awareness.”— Genership: Beyond Leadership toward liberating the creative soul, David Castro

When was the last time you really listened to someone by providing them 100% of your attention?

And when was the last time you truly felt listened to?

My challenge to you is this. Turn off the phone, switch off the TV, or step away from the computer. Go and sit down with your partner, your child, a friend or a colleague, and ask them how they are. Let them talk, and you…well, open up your attention and your ears and just listen…

Change starts somewhere and with someone. You can start that change.

“Each mind brings to the world its own light.”—Genership: Beyond Leadership toward liberating the creative soul, David Castro

*This post was sponsored by Arch Street Press.

  • Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA @ Cerebrations.biz
    October 10, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Great advice, there, Janine…
    But, I am not sure that asking questions of the speaker, to get them to hone in more clearly on their thoughts, is not a viable function of listening… (It certainly is part of my active listening repertoire.)

  • Muriel
    October 23, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I think that when you really listen to someone, you actually accept this person as he/she is. It doesn’t happen that often, when you think about it. I am trying to do it, but it is more difficult than one might think, isn’t it? I am still learning!

    • Janine Ripper
      October 24, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      Gosh its a constant learning curve!!! I can be so crap at listening, but then so good – but I still get distracted by so much…social media/blogging/email being the biggest distraction.

      I’ve definitely improved since doing the course, but am no where near as good as I used to be!

      And you are so true, it doesn’t happen often!

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