An Undervalued Human Gift

tangled tree roots

Helping someone to untangle their thoughts

The capacity to listen is the most persistently undervalued human gift.  Marcel Theroux.

When we have a conversation, one of us talks for a while, the other listens and then takes a turn at talking.  We don’t measure the length of time each of us has for talking. 

When we’re speaking we’re sometimes aware that our companion might not be fully listening.  We know this by their reactions, which might tell us either that they have not been fully listening, or that they haven’t understood. 

How do we respond to that? 

How does it make you feel when you’ve been talking and your companion hasn’t been listening? 

Or when they have interrupted you?

Or when they try to advise you, when you might not want advice. 

Or when they sneaked a look at their mobile.

 

Then when we are listening to someone else, how does it feel to really listen to them? 

  • Do we sometimes find out mind wandering? 
  • Wondering about something that might be happening later?
  • Something that our companion has said has reminded us of something that we want to say too.  And our minds switch off from them, and we’re thinking about how we’re going to say it.
  • How might we make our part of the conversation sound entertaining, emotive or sensational
  • When we’re listening to someone else do we try to analyse what they’re saying, interpret it, or judge it?

All this doesn’t mean that our everyday conversations are any the less valuable, enjoyable, fun, supportive or interesting.  It’s just that there is another way of Listening that we can use as well.  It looks similar, but it feels different.  And it’s something that anyone can learn. 

You may know people who are naturally good listeners, and you find that after a conversation with them that you come away feeling, perhaps, refreshed in some way.  You feel as though you have worked through a problem.  You see something in a different light.

 

In Focusing we learn to really Listen to our companion.  (I am using a capital letter to differentiate from everyday listening.)

  • We sometimes say back to them what they’ve said.
  • We don’t judge.
  • We don’t analyse.
  • We don’t say they’re doing well, or not doing it right.
  • We don’t even try to understand what they’re saying.
  • We Listen. 
  • We give the person this time entirely for them.
  • We stay with them while they pay attention to their inner world.
  • We give them our full attention for this time.
  • And that is all.

It is a great gift for someone to give us their time.  And as Marcel Theroux says, an underrated gift.

We can all improve our Listening skills – would you like to?

 

The next one-day Introduction to Focusing will be on 4th February 2017  in Canterbury.

Day 2 will be on 28th February.