Deep Listening And Feeling Heard

I have noticed that occasionally people will repeat what they are saying when they talk with me. I noticed that this often happens when I am quick to respond. It was as if they were not sure that I had actually heard them.

In my mind’s eye, I had heard the statement or question and was providing my response. They sometimes even interrupt my response in order to repeat their earlier statement. On Sunday, I finally stopped the person and said that if they would let me finish I would answer their query. But I could sense their frustration and it troubled me.

Later that same day as I read True Love, it hit me. Feeling heard is the response to deep listening – which is the focus of this week’s chapter. And that is what was missing; I was not deeply listening.

In my rush to respond, I had not truly heard them. I had heard the spoken words yes, but that is not enough. I had not heard their heart, their soul, I had not heard their entire being. And thus, they were repeating themselves in order to be truly heard.

Often my intellect will craft a response to what is actually a query aimed at my heart. And my fiery air self will zoom in quickly with just the right ordering of consonants and vowels, the specific collection of words and symbols … and I respond before my heart has had a chance to participate.

I think back to how I have been rewarded for this practice. My almost encyclopedic knowledge of telecommunications, technical protocols and system level design made me a success in my corporate career. And it was my rapid intellectual response that made me a rising star in academia. Even my intuitive, psychic responses are often so quick and specific, that I have to force myself to pause to see if in fact the person is ready to hear it.

I have never questioned this ability before now.

What would it be like to truly listen?

What would it be like to hear more than the spoken words and my inner response?

What would it be like … to listen … so that others felt heard?

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Mon, 03/09/2009 - 2:00pm.

Ron Krumpos (not verified) | Mon, 04/05/2010 - 8:14pm

While student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I became friends with Carl Rogers, who was respected as one of the leading psychotherapists of his time. He taught me much about the art of listening.

Dr. Rogers said that when we listen, and people know we are listening, it shows we truly care about them. In turn, they will respond by caring about you. It opens communication and also opens hearts. When we accept them as a person, unconditionally, they will be more kind to you.

We should listen without preconceptions, without anticipation and without judgement if we want others to portray what they truly feel. We listen with all our senses, not just to the words which are said. Some people cannot fully express themselves while speaking, so we must try to see them as they see themselves. We should watch for non-verbal clues as to what they really mean: facial expressions, body movements, etc.

While we should show positive regard for the other person, we should also demonstrate our own positive self-regard. We do not react to their negative comments, verbally or physically, even when we disagree with them. When they do ask for our opinion, however, we should respond with our true thoughts and in specifics rather than generalities. We offer our own perspective as other options rather than as contradictions.

Listening might seem quite passive as opposed to speaking. It is actually very active. To paraphrase Bobby Kennedy, “I learn while listening. When I talk I don’t learn too much.” If you think talking helps to spread your own wisdom, you are not really wise.

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