Listening Changes Lives

This blog is broken into the following parts: the background story || habit tip || 4 simple steps to elevate your listening. Click on the previous links to jump right to that content.

Growing our capacity to listen and to do so lavishly from the heart has the power to transform every area of our lives and every relationship we encounter. The cardinal teaches us just that. If you’ve ever watched a cardinal, you can tell when it’s attentively and with deep presence listening. And just like everything I’ve talked about the last 6 months, it’s something that with awareness and practice we can improve. And yes, this includes how we listen to ourselves and our intuition.

Can you remember a time you felt truly heard? How did you feel when you left that person? My own personal experience, in whatever form it takes, is that it feels like a hug, a big one. Listening without agenda or judgment or any of the other things I list below has the power to change lives.

I’ve seen it first hand in my clients. Sometimes I say very little, they just vent and get to the solution on their own. Yet I see the shift from the beginning to the end, a visible lightness takes over them. I’ve also seen how I listen model a behavior to my clients. They tell me later how they did the same for their kids / friends / partners, etc and how they then saw the shifts too. It’s beautiful.

If you want to communicate better and uplevel many areas of your life, first take a hard look at how you listen. Do you listen with agenda or judgment? Do you listen to answer, to provide your insight? Do you listen with a reason to prove yourself?

I’d argue that corporations everywhere could save millions of dollars a year if they just taught listening to their leaders. I’ve even noticed that when I randomly understand what my dog needs (he’s a talker), he gets an extra pep in his step.

So how do you go about practicing and elevating your ability to listen?

My habit tip that ties to this is seemingly disconnected, but the more we root into ourselves and our core confidence the better we are able to listen to those around us because we’re not trying to earn our worth or prove ourselves. Personally, the more insecure I’m feeling, the more I interrupt.

It is true that how we start our days generally dictates the rest of the day. By taking a few minutes before you open your eyes to envision both feet planted firmly on the ground, feel back into your body, and thank the day for whatever blessings it holds, you tune yourself to a more confident and rooted you. That you is always a better listener.

4 Steps:

  1. Release All Assumptions
    • What & why: One of the most important parts of being a better listener is to accept that you don’t know. You are not this person, you do not live their life, you have no idea what they’re going through. To fully hear we must release all preconceived notions, expectations, assumptions, judgments and just listen
    • How to: When someone wants to share something with you, take a moment and envision clearing the slate, erasing the chalkboard of what you think you know. 
      • Another practice I use prior to client sessions is something I learned in Reiki. I set the intention, that what is theirs is theirs and what is mine is mine, and then I ask that I am guided so that our time together is used for their highest and best good.
  2. Center Into Your Heart
    • What & why: There are some really cool new studies that show your heart knows before your brain has even registered something has happened. Your heart looks at life free of all the things I mentioned in step 1 so there’s less obstacles for information to pass through. It also apparently has a larger energetic field (who knew?!). When you take the time to center here, either through a simple meditation or visualization, you also create the feeling of a safe space or container for whomever is talking. 
    • How to: The method I use I’ve been using a long time, and there are other similar techniques. My head coach, Nancy Levin, teaches us to guide clients to their heart space and ask them what they see when they get there. Other spiritual teachers do the same in their own unique way: Rebecca Campbell has you visualize your heart as a rose that as you walk petal by petal leads to an inner garden. She then asks you to describe what the garden looks like. 
      • Mine is a bit simpler, and excellent for quick moments of re-centering during a busy day or an unexpected conversation. I take a brief moment to envision myself moving from my head to my heart (could be through steps or a leap or an elevator, whatever works for you). Seems silly as I type it, but it works, and I literally feel myself get less “in my head” and more rooted in my heart space.
  3. Cozy Up To Silence
    • What & why: This one is hard, like really hard. The world today doesn’t have much silence, and in doing so teaches us that silence is bad and must be filled. Then if you’re a highly sensitive person and / or neurodivergent in any way the silence carries an energy and can literally feel uncomfortable, like nails on a chalkboard. But maybe instead it needs a reframe, the silence is the space for the orchestra to ready for the next instrument (hoping for my music gurus I did not make this up). Silence in all arts often resets for something really amazing on the other side. 
    • How to: The trusty pause. When there’s a brief break from the speaker, and you want to speak, *pause*, and count 15-30 seconds (silently to yourself). Yes, it will feel like lifetimes. It’s not. Then notice, with this space you gave, what did you learn? Did the speaker continue? Did they figure something out on their own?
  4. Ask Before Advising
    • What & why: This is another hard one, and we often try to swindle ourselves that it comes from a place of such positive intention to be of service and to help. But similar to step 1, we are not this person, so generally we don’t know what’s best for them, they do. The trick is in helping them access this knowledge. Asking questions is the best way to do so. And sometimes even in my friend group we ask if we can ask a question before we ask the question. 🤣 And yes, sometimes no one wants that question, and we respect that boundary they set. 
    • How to: I learned this from a friend many moons ago, and I’ve seen various versions of this in social media. I’m trying to remember to be better at it in all moments. 
      • When you want to give advice, practice the pause from step 3, ask your heart what this person needs most right now and either switch it up with a question or try the below. 
      • When someone vents to you (can be about anything), before you respond ask: “How can I support you the most right now? Do you just need me to listen? Or would you like my perspective or a story from my own experience?”

Jun 29, 2023

Business, Habits, Health, Leadership, Meditations


**Many of my posts contain affiliate links. These products I share are ones I use time and time again after choosing from the heart (and also earn income from, at no cost to you). They have changed my life and I hope to ripple that out to you. Thank you for supporting me!

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