How many times have you been talking away, wrapped up in a conversation, sharing something important, meaningful or revealing about yourself only to realize that the person you are talking with has drifted away and is obviously somewhere else? And, if you tell the truth, haven’t you done the very same thing yourself? What does it take for us to really hear what someone else is saying to us about themselves?
Genuine connections begin with deep listening. And satisfying communication requires us to be fully present for each other and to really hear what is being offered up. For most of us deep listening does not come naturally. In fact life experience often trains our natural deep listening abilities right out of us.
There are many ways that our ability to hear someone else becomes blocked. Once we know about these blocks we have a much better chance of releasing them and cultivating more satisfying habits. Here are three of common ways we undermine the quality of communication in our relationships.
Three Common Communication Blocks
1. We listen for what needs fixing, changing or figuring out. Many of us learned very early in life to look and listen for problems. We are quick to notice what is not working and what is wrong. We are busy analyzing and sorting for what is not right. Our perspective distorts our listening abilities.
2. We listen for opportunities to share our own wisdom, knowledge and competence. We are busy listening to the running commentary inside our own head while someone else is talking to us.
3. We assume that we know what words and sentences are coming next. Often we have moved on long before our partners’ sharing is complete. We have lost our curiosity, the ability to be open with wonder about another human being.
Being fully present for another is an art that can be cultivated. The following antidotes will give you some clues about how to go about this.
1. See others as whole and complete right from the start. Know that everyone has a source of internal wisdom and intelligence that they can access for their own answers and guidance.
This might feel like a big leap at first. When people are telling us their “problems” we automatically assume that they want us to do something about them. But there are many times when the greatest gift we can give another is our confidence in their own abilities to find solutions for themselves. Granted this is not always the case and in some situations, when advice is clearly sought and asked for there is nothing wrong with offering help. But often we interfere when quiet listening would serve the most.
2. Give up trying to impress others with your brilliance and be fully present for them instead. The fact that you know things and have gifts and talents is without question. Everybody does. If you want to create genuine connections with others, forget about your self and get curious about them instead.
3. Be curious and approach each communication – whether with someone you have just met or someone you have been married to for thirty years, with fresh eyes of wonder. We change and so do our friends, children and partners. When you think you already know everything there is to know about another person the adventure of intimacy begins to falter.
You can create genuine intimate connections by looking for wholeness, focusing fully on the other person and cultivating ongoing curiosity. Listen in this way and notice how the loving feelings between you and those you care about blossom.