It can be hard to give someone your full attention in a conversation, but it is a skill that we can practice and get better at.
How many of you have tried to have a conversation with someone that clearly wasn’t listening to you? Or maybe has anyone ever seen you nodding and smiling during a conversation when your mind was somewhere else? Was it obvious?
Of all our communication skills, listening is a key factor to maintaining meaningful relationships with friends, family and even colleagues. But what really is listening? In its most simple form, listening is really just taking time instead to experience what we are currently hearing within a particular moment.
Very recently I had a conversation with one of our clients here at 180 Sanctuary @ Puripai Villa. This individual client become emotional as he told me he wanted to adopt a deeper connection with his wife. He explained to me that he currently struggles to listen to her because there are so many things going on inside his head competing for attention. His biggest issue was that he wants to pay more attention to her but he simply doesn’t know how to. A good majority of us have a difficult time focusing and sustaining our attention. Evidence clearly shows that we can’t focus on multiple things at the same time.
The art of mindful listening takes time and effort. It is a skill that an individual can develop and with consistent practice it becomes easier each time. Basically you can hone your ability to listen.
The first step one must take is that they need to set a clear goal that they want to become a better listener. This particular client at 180 Sanctuary had set this goal which was fundamental building block in developing his listening skill. Because he had set this goal he used it to create a frame of reference so he could check in with himself and catch himself whenever he was getting lost in his own thoughts whilst talking to someone. I explained to him that once you recognize that you are getting lost in your own thoughts you can take a breath, smile because you noticed and redirect you attention back to listening with full attention. It is very much like returning your awareness to your breath in meditation. And also very much like in meditation noticing and returning to the present is really the main objective here.
Listening involves both paying attention to what the other person is trying to communicate beyond words and also paying attention to what they are saying. The HEAR practice listed below (a guideline to practicing mindful listening that we use at 180 Sanctuary) can help you adopted deeper listening skill.
HEAR stands for:
H – HALT – Stop what you are doing and offer your FULL attention.
E – ENJOY – Enjoy a breath as you choose to receive whatever is being communicated to you – either wanted or unwanted.
A – ASK – Ask yourself if you understand what they are trying to say. If you don’t, then ask for clarification. Instead of making assumptions, bring curiosity and openness to the conversation.
R – REFLECT – Reflect back to them what you have heard. This tells them that you were really listening with full attention.