Ever feel like you are talking to a wall? Or caught yourself checking your phone while someone is telling you a story? If I’ve already lost you and you’re thinking about what you need to do today or what you are going to eat for lunch, then you should probably read this post. Guest blogger, Alanna Gibbs shares great wisdom on what it means to listen and challenges us to think harder on the way we approach listening. If you think you are a good listener or want to become a better listener, her message is for you.
One of the most powerful things we can do for others is to simply listen. I was reminded recently just how difficult this task can be.
I met a friend at a coffee shop the other day to catch up on life. We were having a great conversation and she started talking about an issue she had been dealing with. Immediately, my mind shifted into problem solving mode. I found myself analyzing the problem, mulling over possible solutions, weighing each option for its risk/benefit ratio – all within the confines of my own mind while I was “listening”. Of course I offered up my solution to which she kindly said, “Yes, that is an option”.
Now mind you, this friend is a very wise, capable, and amazing woman! She had no need for my input, nor did she ask for it. What she wanted simply was space to discuss what she was dealing with, and more importantly, how it was impacting her.
Realizing my misstep, I quickly made a joke that acknowledged my mistake by saying “Problem solved… check” with a laugh. She graciously laughed too.
How many times have you found yourself making the same mistake?
To put this story into context, throughout the years I have gotten a lot of feedback that I am a good listener. In fact, in a recent training I was in, we performed an exercise in which we evaluated each other’s listening skills. The gentleman who observed me commented on my body language – that I leaned in slightly, that I mirrored the movement of the speaker, that my body language was open and inviting. He commented that I made good eye contact and used just enough words to show that I was engaged and actively listening.
In all honesty, his feedback took me off guard. Up until that point I had been completely oblivious to how I approach conversations – all I knew was that people often confided in me and commented that I am a good listener. In those 3 minutes, he was able to mirror back to me a skill I had developed without consciousness. And yes, I do have a mini crush on a guy who is so dang observant! (If you are out there “call me, maybe?”)
I was doing all the right things, but I think it was more than that.
When I pause and think about what good listening really is, the word that comes to mind is attunement.
Merriman-Webster defines the word attune as:
- To bring into harmony
- To make aware or responsive
Good listening is not just about hearing someone. It is about creating space within yourself to attune to them. You are able to listen to all of the messages that are coming forward in the conversation when you attune to someone. It includes the words that are spoken, and equally important, what is not said. It includes picking up on the emotion and noticing what their body is saying to you through its posture.
When you create space within yourself to attune to the speaker, a sort of resonance develops. It is almost palpable, they feel it and so do you!
The next time you find your mind wandering off in a conversation, remember this blog, and reel yourself back in. Try to create space within yourself to open up and attune to the person and see what unfolds.
Alanna Gibbs is the owner of Alanna Gibbs Wellness, LLC. She uses her ability to attune to others to really listen in her Energy Healing (Healing Touch, Therapeutic Touch, and Reiki) and Holistic Health Coaching services. For more information on Alanna, see www.alannagibbswellness.com or find Alanna Gibbs Wellness, LLC on Facebook.