During my training as Spiritual Counsellor, one of the first lessons we received was to just sit down and listen -literally. We would sit in pairs and one of the people would talk a good 5-15 minutes, depending on the exercise, whilst the other one would listen without saying a word. To say it was very uncomfortable at first would be an understatement. To me it seemed, well, rude -not to mention unnatural. I mean, my partner was sharing really interesting stuff, things that echoed with my experience and I was itching to jump in and tell her about a similar experience, or how I had solved a problem like hers. It seemed like wasted opportunity: how was I suppose to counsel if I had to keep my mouth shut? And then I finally got it.
When I decided to stop having this internal conversation, about all the wonderful, awe inspiring, wise words I could say, I, at last, listened to my partners words. And when I placed my full attention on her, as you would put it on a candle during meditation, I realized that she didn’t need a lot of my wisdom: that by just being fully present for her, holding her in the moment, I was creating a space not only for her to express herself, but somehow also listen to herself, and many a time, answer her own questions. I had had a similar experience with my Tarot practise: clients seem to need to listen to their questions, worries and doubts out loud to really grasp them. Once I was l truly listening, I could get “myself”, my little ego, out of the way and open a channel for my Higher Self to guide, advise and in a way meet and unite with her Higher Self. I guess that in more secular words, it was somewhat like Napoleon Hill’s idea of the Master Mind: a harmony (instead of competition) between people that allowed us to connect in a deeper way, and, spiritually speaking, meet in that place “where my light salutes the light in you.”
Deep Listening’s role in Customer Service and Family and Personal Relationships
In my experience, deep listening is an act of respect, love and appreciation. It allows to serve by creating a space where people can be themselves. It help us to know people better, to really bond to them, to find our commonalities and appreciate our differences. In the business world, deep listening comes very close to Dale Carnegie’s advice on How to Make Friends and Influence People. He recommended to “listen intently.” It doesn’t take a genius to realize that if you don’t listen deeply to your clients, customers and employees, but half listen, with an agenda in mind, your chances of providing the suggestions, solutions and inspirations for happy clients, productive employees and cooperative associates are rather slim. He also quoted a journalist of the time, Issac F. Marcosson, as saying that “many people failed to make a favourable impression because they didn’t listen attentively.” Mr. Carnegie also declared that deep listening is as important in family and personal relationships as it is in business. Something with I earnestly agree. How else are we to understand those we love?
As a Mum, I understand how hard is not to step in and preach, pass on experience and so forth. But I have seen how different is my relationship with y daughter when I bite my tongue, remind myself that she is “a light” as wise as the light in me and allow her to speak whilst I truly listen. This is an art I have yet to master with my child, but it’s certainly a goal towards which I’m working. A goal definitely worth the effort. Deep listening can open new dimensions to couple relationship; it can strengthen and repair communications between friends, relatives and neighbours. And it can pave the way to peace and reconciliation among people.
Now, I’m not suggesting to be absolutely quiet during a conversation. But do be present. Start by putting yourself in a position of respect and equality, knowing not only that everyone deserves the courtesy of being heard, but that everyone also has something to offer to the world in her own special way. If you feel that itch to jump in and tell about a better/worse/deeper experience than the one the person in talking about, tell yourself: this is not about me right now. I really want to hear what she has to say. Be also engaging: ask questions, reflect her words back. Do your best no to judge what you are hearing: remember, this is not about you right now, we all make mistakes, we all have different views on what is important and we all are doing the best that we can with what we have. And be friendly, gentle. After all, by deep listening you are allowing the Divine in you to commune with the Divine in others – so each encounter is a coming home and sacred family reunion of sorts.
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