Listening

Here is an article about the the importance of listening and how it affects our relationships . Enjoy! – Project Resiliency Team 

Listening

By Michael W. Taft.

If you listen to two people having a conversation, you’ll often notice something interesting: neither of them are listening. They are just pretending to listen while they think of what to say next. “Conversation” comes just a game of ping-pong of who can say something more interesting or outrageous.

There are three things about this kind of conversation. First, there is never any silence. Second, because there is no silence, the conversationalists are never actually taking in what each other is saying. Third, since they aren’t taking it in, they aren’t really thinking about it or responding to what’s being said in a meaningful way. Conversations like this are very tiring. They contain no food for the brain or heart; the verbal equivalent of junk food—empty, unsatisfying, and actually bad for you.

Learning to listen means learning to actually pay attention to—to concentrate on—what other people are saying. Listening to their words as if listening to a favorite song, with your mind focused on what they are saying and what it means.

It’s called “active listening.” Active listening can give you you better enjoyment of music as well as other humans, and—perhaps most importantly—a profoundly positive shift in the quality of relationships.

It’s called active listening because we are not just passively allowing speech to enter our ears, but instead are bringing as much of our listening capacity into the act as possible. Our ears become hungry for the words they are listening to, and chew the words as finely as possible before digesting them.

Try this experiment: When talking with someone, play a mental game of waiting one full second before responding to anything they have said. That’s it, just one second of silence, no matter what you’re talking about. This is a long, long time in a normal conversation. During this second of silence, don’t think about what you are going to say, think about what the other person has just said. Give it one long, delicious second of your full attention. Then respond, saying whatever it is you have to say. Make sure to maintain eye contact so that they know you’re listening to what they’re saying and considering it.

You will be surprised what a big difference this little game makes.

By actually giving the other person’s words a moment to sink in before you respond, your connection with that person, the depth of your conversation, will be very noticeable.

Because we love to be heard, the speaker will begin to say things and respond in ways that are very positive. But the biggest changes will be in you. You will feel yourself opening to the person in a new way. You will begin to open to the person emotionally, and feel into their humanness. It’s a powerful feeling, one that immediately begins to relieve our loneliness and isolation.

 

Michael W. Taft is an author, editor, meditation teacher, and neuroscience junkie. He is currently a meditation coach specializing in secular, science-based meditation training in corporate settings. Michael is the author of several books, including the upcoming The Mindful Geek, and Nondualism: A Brief History of a Timeless ConceptEgo (which he co-authored), as well as the editor of such books as Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson and the upcoming The Science of Enlightenment by Shinzen Young.

He often teaches at Google and has worked on curriculum development for SIYLI. Michael is also an official advisor to the Therapeutic Neuroscience Lab. He was previously editor-in-chief of Being Human, a site for exploring what evolution, neuroscience, biology, psychology, archeology, and technology can tell us about the human condition, and was editorial director of Sounds True.

From Zen temples in Japan to yogi caves in India, Michael has been meditating for over thirty years and has extensive experience in both Buddhist and Hindu practice. He currently lives in Berkeley, California, and is founding editor of the popular mindfulness meditation blog Deconstructing Yourself.

Interested in getting meditation training? Meditation with Michael.

Michael is available to speak or teach at your corporation, company, conference, retreat center, or meditation group. He also has a thriving practice teaching meditation one-on-one to leaders. Email him here.

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