When was the last time someone put aside everything to listen to you?
And made you feel like every single word you said carried an important story, no matter how small or big? How did that make you feel? Significant? Accepted? Appreciated?
This is the power of deep listening.
I thoroughly enjoy myself when I am able to listen deeply to someone – to their thought,
the words used to frame it, the tone used to communicate it, the meaning that lies behind it (a meaning one may or may not be aware of). I strongly believe that when a person is listened to in such a manner , she is able to reperceive the world in a new light, the kind which makes one feel expanded, enriched & empowered.
If I am asked to travel back in time, to a moment where I was on the receiving end of such listening, I remember moving forward, after the conversation ended, with a refreshing sense of freedom – the kind which made me feel curious about exploring more corners of my little world, the kind which helped me take ownership of whatever I found in these corners. The kind of freedom which encouraged me to welcome others into my world.
Something a dear friend of mine once said would aptly summarise the impact of deep listening, “When I am listened to (and not heard), I feel that someone finally knows what it is to be me, the real me.”
On the other hand, I dislike it in myself when I am unable listen to someone either because I have decided in advance what the other person is going to say (so I don’t listen) or because I twist their message in subtle ways to make it sound similar to what I wish to hear. Such methods show my eagerness to accept the person for who I want them to be rather than for who they are. The result for the person on the receiving end of my surficial listening is frustration & bemusement.
People are as enchanting as the raindrops that fall in a puddle, if you let them be; one finds joy in the ripples created by a single rain drop for one cannot control the act. Thus, each day I strive towards providing another person an environment where she can be her own real self, separate from me via the medium of deep listening.
Not very often do we find ourselves in a position where we find our release in just the way we are being listened to; such a deep personal encounter is not a common occurrence. But I am convinced that unless it happens every once in a while, we are not experiencing the essence of this human life.