The Art Of Mindful Listening
Our world has exploded with technology and communication has become easier than we’ve ever had before. We can now talk to anyone, anywhere in the world whenever we want. We have more friends online than offline. Yet, I feel, a meaningful connection is somehow lost. Information pollution means that so much comes our way seeking attention that we rarely have any time to really listen to someone when they are talking. As an introvert and a regular meditator, here is what it means to develop the art of listening so that we can once again have deep, meaningful connections with our friends and loved ones. In other words, developing mindful listening skills.
Eye contact – Anyone would know what it feels like talking to someone who is regularly checking their phones while they are talking. It makes the person talking seem less important. Or the listener could be looking at the surrounding appearing bored or less interested and distracting the speaker. Listening mindfully means using your eyes to focus on the person talking so that you can observe their emotions and body language as they speak. You become fully engaged with them, being in the moment, and fully present. As a result, we understand a lot more than just the words being spoken. We are engaged in a caring and compassionate way.
Mental chatter – Sure we can be observant whilst chatting, but what goes in our monkey mind is a different matter. Our mind starts to make judgments, perhaps on the topic of conversation. We may want to jump in and say something so we think about what we are going to say next even before the person has finished their sentence. Sometimes we are simply going through our to-do lists in our heads and thinking of what we will do when we get home. Mindful listening means you are both physically and mentally present with the other person. Nothing matters more to you now than the person talking and what they are saying. It just tells the other person that they are important to you and they matter.
Knowing what and when to say something- There is nothing more irritating and frustrating than constantly being interrupted when you are talking. It just makes one want to end the conversation. If you have ever experienced this, you know it often ends with “can you please just let me finish” or “can you please listen”! Untimely interruption can mean that you may have made judgments about what the person is trying to say or you are assuming that the person wants advice or you were just distracted and missed bits of the conversation. Mindful listening means that if you are fully present, you have a full understanding of the person speaking. If need be, ask relevant questions infrequently to ensure that you are following. Offer advice only if the person needs it or ask them if they need your advice. You will be much appreciated for just simply bring present and lending an ear.
Just as we can bring mindfulness in our daily activities, we can bring mindfulness to our relationships too. There is a Japanese phrase “Ichigo Ichie” that roughly means to make each moment or experience memorable by fully being present in the moment and deeply appreciating whatever is taking place at that moment. In this case, we are making communication a better and memorable experience by learning the art of listening.
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