Thursday, 1 September 2011

Tip 2: Real listening is relaxing!

Take time to pause and breathe deeply when you are listening. Let go of your ideas, thoughts, responses and agendas, and create a calm, attentive space for yourself and the other person.

Even a few seconds of listening can reduce stress for the speaker and the listener. Listening is simply about being present. If you make a journey towards the other person (onto ‘their mountain’ – see the video clip!), you tune in to their perspectives. While you are listening, there’s no need to worry about your own agendas, or to prepare what you will say or do next. Letting go of your own thoughts and ideas as you listen actually gives you a break. Your calm attention then gives the speaker confidence, and also allows your resources to refresh, and to gather at their own pace into a creative and appropriate response.

-        You feel more relaxed and resourceful
-        The other person feels understood, valued and respected
-        You choose more clearly whether to continue the conversation
-        Your reply comes from a deeper, fresher and more centred place in you
-        You can end a conversation more easily, with kindness and courtesy


  1. Elizabeth
    A quick challenge. Listening is not simply about being present. It is about engaging. The differences between people can be summed up as those that want to vs those that don't; those that know how to vs those that don't; those that can afford to (normally time based) vs those that can't.

  2. Yes Sean!
    I wish I had mentioned something about engaging. Because, for me, being fully present IS to be engaged. If I'm trying to listen, but my mind is busy elsewhere – for example, I'm worrying about something I need to deal with back at my desk – then my attention is split. Even if my INTENTION is to be a good listener, my ATTENTION doesn't let me. I'm divided. So in this way, I cannot fully engage. As I see it, I'm not fully present with you. Some part of me is away solving problems, feeling my own anxieties, or caught up in my own agendas.

    My metaphor of being fully with someone 'on their mountain' is one that means being fully engaged with them, because we are fully present.

  3. i like this elizabeth. thank you for posting. i like your added notes about engagement. i find myself being moved and changed by what i'm listening to...therefore, i sometimes feel relaxed, othertimes, not. always engaging when engaged.

  4. Hi Wendy, your comment brings to mind a distinction I feel in me when I'm listening. Sometimes I can feel very engaged, and I also get a bit 'caught up' in what someone is saying, and yes, that means I feel some of what they are saying – and it may not be relaxing.

    At other times, I'm able to stay in a different place in myself – I feel able to welcome and acknowledge what they say. I can say 'hello' to anything that pops up for them. (On a good day, I can even do this for things they may say which are critical about me.)

    In my experience, this is a 'relaxing' place, because at that moment, I am not trying to do anything, or be anything. I am just taking in that such-and-such is another person's experience. Taking that in takes a little time to absorb, to filter down, to understand as best I can – it's a receptive process, and one I find deeply nourishing and satisfying too, as it gives me a sense of connection with them (and at best, with humanity in general).

    I wonder if this brings any other thoughts for you in your experience?

    Thanks for your posting!