Listen with nothing on your mind
To learn anything new, it goes without saying that we need to be able to listen.
The problem is that we’re bombarded with information from all directions on a day-to-day basis. Tiny musical “pings” throughout the day announce the arrival of emails, texts and messages of all kinds. We’ve grown accustomed to listening on a surface level just to get through this ever-flowing stream of data.
Do we even know what it is to really listen anymore? Did we ever know?
As a Coach and Teacher, I’ve been told that I’m a good listener. But it was only when I did a short course recently that I realized how often I was falling into “listening pitfalls” and how much margin I had for improvement.
What we tend to do:
We listen to interrupt or reply. To agree or disagree. To analyze, compare and judge.
Whenever we hear something new, something “fresh”, we immediately stick a label on it based on what we already know.
We categorize it and try to fit it into a neat little file in our mind where we can forget about it, telling ourselves that we already knew.
We listen to the narrative in our own minds. We have our own agenda.
In short, we’re actually listening more to ourselves than to someone or something else.
Think about the last new thing you learned. How did you listen?
Do the test:
See how quiet your mind is next time you’re hearing or learning something new.
Is your mind calm and clear or already full of comments, ready to react?
Are you listening simply to hear or to fully understand?
How to listen to understand anything and anyone:
Remember the last time you watched a sunrise? The warm invitation to a bright, new day, colouring the sky with magnificent shades of orange and pink?
I’m sure you didn’t compare the sunrise with one you’d seen previously or criticize its colours or form. You were just open to what was, just being. Fully connected to the moment. No need to speak, think or describe.
That’s how we need to be when we listen.
From now on, listen like you’re taking in a beautiful horizon. Not thinking about anything in particular. No intellect or analysis needed. Just appreciation.
By doing this, we’re connecting to the present moment and creating a space in our minds for understanding. Not old understanding. New. Fresh. Insight.
We can hear behind the words. We can read between the lines.
And then we can clarify with curiosity. And this leads to connection. With ourselves, with others, with life.
In fact, all we need to do is to show up and open up.
Listen with nothing on our minds.
Believe me, a whole new experience awaits.
Photos courtesy of: Cynthia Magana & Rafael Leao on Unsplash