The Power of Listening
The power of listening begins with being able to listen to yourself. How often do you actually listen to what you really have to say? To what your body feels? To what your intuition is guiding you towards or away from?
So many of us live our lives rushing from one thing to the next, worrying about how we are going to fit so much into so little time. In all of our rushing and worrying we become so preoccupied with what’s going on outside of ourselves that we forget to listen to what’s going on inside of ourselves. We shove down our feelings and emotions when they ‘get in the way of more important things’, we ignore fatigue by pepping ourselves up with caffeine, and mask the symptoms of stress with headache pills and alcohol.
You are worth anything it takes to stay rested, happy and deeply tuned into the people you serve. – Nancy Kline
But if we give ourselves permission to rest, to stop and take time out regularly, to check in with what is going on inside, we can reconnect with our inner voice and hear what it has to say. We can listen to what we really need, to what we really want and receive guidance on what we need to do, or not do, for our highest possible good. By simply hitting the pause button on our hectic lives and settling ourselves down for five minutes to focus on our breathing, we can re-centre ourselves and allow our inner self to speak.
When we connect with our innate sense of intuition and inspiration, we open ourselves to listen and receive answers from within. Messages from our inner guidance come to us through our senses. Breathing deeply helps us to connect with this guidance. You may get a sense about what you need, see a picture in your minds eye, hear words or simply get a clear knowing about what action or inaction to take next.
Your own Inner Guide tells you when to speak up and act, and importantly and more often, when to be still and do nothing; what to do in every situation; and what the answers are to every decision that you have to take – Sarah Alexander
It is not until we listen to ourselves that we can really listen to others. This is because truly listening requires the listener to be in a state of ease, focused only on the moment and on what the other person has to say. We can’t really listen for another person unless we are first able to listen with ease for ourselves. But, when we give another person the gift of our undivided attention, listen to them with ease and stay fully present in the moment shared with them, something truly profound happens – we create a space for them that determines the quality of their thinking. The creation of this kind of thinking space enables clarity of thought, eloquence of speech and the generation of genius ideas.
Most people think they listen well, but they rarely do… Ease creates. Urgency destroys. When it comes to helping people think for themselves, sometimes doing means not doing. – Nancy Kline
This kind of thinking space is the opposite of what most of us experience in our day to day lives, sharing conversations with others that are rushed, hurried and fragmented. More often than not we finish off each others sentences, paraphrase each others words, assume we already know what someone else has to say, moan, interrupt, get irritated, give advice and jump in to try and solve each others problems.
When we truly learn to listen for ourselves and for others, we free ourselves to pay attention without urgency, enjoy the uniqueness of being in the moment, encourage with authenticity, create trust and mutual respect, and foster dreams that unfold with ease. Listening in this way has the power to transform your relationship with yourself, at home and with those at work. Listening in this way has the power to transform our society.
Until recent years much of our conditioning has emphasised the importance of appearing to be strong and have all the answers, belittling others in order to gain superiority, valuing competition and control, encouraging weakness to be covered up with lies. We were taught to comply rather than be individual and focus on conquering instead of humanising. Thankfully such archaic models of relating to each other in such ways are beginning to crumble. Organisations are starting to notice the benefits of opening and encouraging diversity, appreciating individual qualities and characteristics, operating with honesty and integrity, establishing equality, asking questions about what is most needed and most importantly, listening.
We still have a long way to go. But we can each start today in our own way by beginning to listen more to ourselves and to the people in our lives; and by recognising the potential genius within everyone we meet.
If we treat a man as he is, we make him less than he is. If we treat a man as though he already were what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be. – Goethe
Here are my Top 10 Tips on Listening to Ignite Genius
- Listen to Yourself: Take time out each day to listen to yourself. Remind yourself that you are worth anything it takes to tune into yourself, because in doing so you will improve your own health and wellbeing and therefore be in a better position to help serve others. Each morning before you get out of bed, take 3 deep breaths inwards and notice how you are feeling in your body. Ask yourself ‘What do I most need today?’ – Listen to the guidance you receive. Trust it and act on it.
- You Matter: Give yourself what you need. Nourish and nurture yourself. Create an environment for yourself that says ‘you matter’. In doing these things for yourself, you permit others to do the same for themselves. By truly valuing yourself, you automatically start valuing others. Your interactions with others will also improve as a result.
- Acknowledge Feelings: In listening to your own feelings and acknowledging them you will find it easier to acknowledge the feelings of others. Allow other people to release their emotions in your presence. Thinking can be restored when given the space for sufficient emotional release. When someone verbally expresses a feeling to you, like anger, fear, sadness or joy – reflect back to them that you have acknowledged it – e.g. “sounds like your angry about x” or “looks like you are really excited about y”. As humans, we all seek to receive love and acknowledgement from others.
- Converse With Ease: Relax into your conversations with others. Let go of any sense of rush. Stay gently focused on the moment and give your undivided attention to what the other person has to say.
- Equality: Treat others as your equal, regardless of hierarchy and even with children. This improves the quality of the attention you are able to give to the other person and fosters respect and intelligibility so that any tendency towards infantalisation or assumed superiority is removed.
- Give People a Chance: Rather than jumping in to give someone your advice or trying to solve their ‘problems’, give people a chance to find their own solutions. Ask them questions to help them think. Encourage them to think for themselves.
- Foster Hope: Permit yourself to become fascinated by what others have to say. Don’t interrupt or humiliate. Allow people to share their true thoughts and feelings with you without cynicism. Respect their dreams. Encourage them to dream.
- Give Genuine Praise: Tell people the things you like about them, their ideas, their work – if you are giving constructive feedback to someone apply a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative criticism. Allow the one area for improvement to be the thing that if improved would positively affect everything else. People think more creatively in a context of genuine praise.
- Express Appreciation: Notice the things you are grateful for in your life and in others. Express your gratitude in your thoughts and actions. What you focus on expands – by expressing appreciation you amplify that for which you show gratitude.
- Be Open and Honest: Be open and honest with yourself and with others. This will improve your ability to listen and to overcome challenges. Often facing something you’ve been denying can unblock stifled energy and lead to creative genius.
Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh,” he whispered. ”Yes, Piglet?” ”Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw, “I just wanted to be sure of you.”