We want closer relationships with those important to us – our spouses, children, perhaps co-parents – but knowing how to develop deep and lasting relationships is an extremely rare skill.
The secret is cultivating the art of listening. And anyone can do it.
As the ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus said: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
Listening is a lost art these days. Listening is at the heart of close relationships with others.
Unfortunately, in today’s environment, it’s becoming more and more difficult to communicate with and connect with one another.
And the lack of ability to really listen leads to breakdown in communication and conflict.
You might have heard the term “active listening.” It’s an outdated and ineffective listening technique where you repeat what was said. For instance, what I heard you say is…”
But active listening is scripted. It’s not listening.
All too often, we’re thinking about what we will say next.
That’s not listening because it’s easy to miss valuable information while forming responses.
The only way to be a good listener is to simply be present – not just to the words being said, but what the other person is experiencing.
You take your cues from the emotions you hear behind the words. Do you hear anger, fear, annoyance?
Simply allow yourself to connect with that emotion – as humans, we all experience the same range of emotions. Your response will come from relating to the emotion behind the words. Your response will therefore be authentic.
Listening requires putting our own opinions, thoughts, and expectations aside to really listen to someone else.
Being a good listener opens you up to cultivating new and unexpected relationships, new ideas and possibilities; and deeper connections with others.
For all this and more, it’s well worth it to become a good listener.
What are some more ways you’ve improved the relationships in your life?