Lately, I’ve been struck by the amount of dignity in the simple act of listening. How might the world change, if we embraced listening as an asset, not a threat? Listening does not mean you agree or will stay silent. Indeed, it reveals the kind of integrity so assured of its rightness that allowing space for other’s views is just decent. Ever half listened: waiting to share your opinion? I know I have. In fact, sometimes I am so excited about the topic at hand that I interrupt just to agree! I’m working on it guys.
Why lean into listening?
It lives out the kind of world that gives voice to the silenced.
It creates space for all voices, not just the loud ones.
It communicates dignity and calm amid the noise.
It creates an environment open to your message.
It helps you ask questions that get to the core of the message.
So how exactly can we practice listening? Here are 3 ways you can lean into listening.
One cannot give to others what she has not used successfully on herself. As Rene Brown puts it, “If you love to help others, but can’t ask for help yourself, every time you are helping, you are judging.” For me, breath work is a powerful tool in dealing with stuffed-down emotions. Deep breathing takes the nervous system out of fight-or-flight mode and into let-it-out-because-you’re-safe-here mode. Thus, reconnecting to your breath, is a form of self-listening.
Let it go. Have that sage advice ready? Those practical 4 steps ready to share? And then your friend goes on and on AND ON about her problem. Let your answers go. There are times when listening is the antibiotic ointment for cleaning deep wounds. Sometimes that means listening 3x, 5x, 10x more than you’re speaking. Because wounds can’t heal without being cleansed first.
Be with, not feel with. Make listening a sustainable practice by honoring your boundaries. Listening is not about bulldozing your time, energy, safety or self worth. It does not mean welcoming secondary trauma. Listening means making the appropriate space for other’s voices.
Listening is about leading with human decency because there IS enough room in the world for every voice. Not just the loud ones.
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