Have you wondered why some conversations leave you feeling elated while others make you feel exhausted or drained?
Communication is an exchange. It is an exchange of ideas, feelings, memories and energy. In some conversations, if one person is an inefficient listener, it can result in a one sided exchange, leaving the other person feeling unheard and sometimes drained of energy.
Listening is a learnt skill
Often, when a child is not listened to, truly listened to, by their peers or caregivers, they will not learn how to listen effectively as an adult.
It goes deeper than that though, because if the child is not heard in childhood, then there’s a high chance that they will not know how to ‘listen’ to themselves. The inability to listen to and read the cues of their own ‘state’ can result in a dissociation with their feelings, intuition and inner voice.
This became apparent to me some time ago, upon reflection of my own childhood. Being the third child, I was born into a very busy family where neither of my parents, or older siblings, had time for me. Plus, they themselves had not been truly listened to as children so they had not acquired the skill of listening.
So, by growing up being largely ignored, what it taught me was the ‘skill’ of ignoring myself. This included ignoring my feelings and my intuition. The faculty left for navigatinig through life was up to the thinking mind, leading me to detach from my own emotional needs and shift my focus to pleasing others in order to ‘get’ attention or validation of my existence.
When I had my son at 24, I started to recognise the ‘automatic’ parenting styles starting to express through me. But, thankfully a very loud voice inside my head said “Hang on a cotton picking minute, my son IS NOT growing up the same way I did!!!”
I was aware enough to see that while the behaviour was learnt, the behaviour pattern was ‘in’ me, which meant I could take responsibility for it and do something to change.
How to practice good listening skills
True listening entails switching off the mental chatter, that incessantly plays in our head, while the other person is talking, and allow a silent space for them to speak, learning to hear each word.
If you pay attention to where your focus is when the other person is talking, you will probably notice the inclination for your mind to be rehearsing a smart or educated response to what they are saying. Doing so is not listening.
Practicing ‘silent listening’ helps to not only hear the other persons words, but to sense the feelings and energy behind what they are saying, giving you much more insight and value in what you have to share with them in return.
Conversing in this manner, incorporating the skill of listening, will make your interactions with people much more alive and meaningful.
Little Wings author, illustrator and designer Sonja Kallio shares motivational exercises and techniques that can contribute on your journey to finding inner guidance through self reflection and discovery.