1. A Clear Mind. If our mind is full of past impressions of someone or an event, whatever we hear, it is as if we are writing on top of somethingalready written. To truly listen we need a ‘clean’ mind. A clean mind is a clear and less self-absorbed mind. It is able to be open and non-judgemental as well as see the bigger picture.
To start creating a clear mind, be aware of your own thoughts. Check-in with yourself by asking questions: Is thinking like this going to improve the situation? Is thinking like this going to help my relationship with others? What is the more important to me? Consciously choose to let go of the wasteful and damaging ones.
2. Generosity. When in conversation with someone, give them your full attention and time. Be generous with your attention and time, and you’llfind you save time by avoiding future misunderstandings and the other person will feel valued. The nice thing is that you’ll find others will support you when you need it!
3. Empathy. This enables us to be non-judgemental and understand what is behind someone’s words, particularly if they aren’t able to communicate very well with us.
4. Integrity. It is important that when someone shares something with us that we don’t start repeating or gossiping, nor misuse what was shared. Integrity understands that we all have highs and lows but that the person in front of us is someone we value; as a result we don’t think less of them.
5. Balance. Listen with both your heart and your head – this enables us to be compassionate and objective at the same time.
5 Exercises to Build your Capacity to Listen
1. Practise silence. Even if it just for 1 or 2 minutes, take a moment and quieten your mind. Give it a breather.
2. Consciously listen. Start paying more attention to everyday sounds around you. If you are in a coffee bar, how many sounds do you hear? If you are by a lake, how many birds can you hear? Can you hear the ripple of the water? The wind in the trees?
3. Savouring. Take a moment to enjoy even mundane sounds, like the sound of the tumble dryer or the washing machine – find the hidden choir.
4. Listening Positions. Try out listening to the radio or with friends in different ways. Such as, switch from being emphatic to being critical and back again. Other duos to play with are: active-passive; to the point-expansive and complaining-positive.
5. Use RASA. In conversation keep ‘RASA‘ in mind, where:
R is to Receive what is being said.
A is to Appreciate what is being said, make lots of supportive noises, such as, um, ah, I see, OK.
S is to Summarise what the other person has just said. In this way any misunderstandings can be caught early.
A is to Ask about anything you aren’t clear about.
Why not give it a go? When we start listening more consciously, we start creating a world of connections, a world of understanding and a less conflicted world.