When talking with someone are you aware of what is being spoken both inside and outside your Self? Until recently I hadn’t given that a thought.
I’m at a stage in my life where I’m moving through a number of blocks when it comes to listening in general. I discovered these blocks have to do with the conditioning I experienced growing up. Allow me to share some insights with you helping you to see how conditioning plays a part in everyday life.
Professionally, I’ve been working with the different words I use to explain what I do as a Relationship Coach. For example, I explain to people, ‘I coach professional women through the pain of upset to have clarity, focus and passion.’ Now when I express those words to people I pause to hear what people have to say. Pausing after I talk adds a new and interesting dynamic when it comes to listening. To wait helps me to hear if people ask me questions about what I said or if people change the subject to maybe talk about something totally unrelated. This dynamic of pausing has not been easy for me at all. I’m realizing this focused attention on listening in business is also helping me in other areas of everyday life.
I started to be mindful of my listening skills and asked myself this question, ‘what was blocking me from listening?’ In no time I could see two areas in which I was blocked from being present enough to listen to people. See if this is something you can maybe relate to…
The first area I was blocked in had to do with the times I wasn’t hearing what was being spoken after I was done speaking. The person I was talking with would say something and I didn’t fully remember what they said. I became aware of this when asked by someone else what the other person said. I couldn’t remember where they went in the conversation. That realization started to bother me.
What was causing me to not hear what the other person had said that day? I started to observe I was ‘distracted’ from the words….and drawn to something else. That something else had to do with how things looked to me including the person’s looks! You have no idea my reaction when I learned that about myself. I could see I was getting caught up in how the person looked when they were talking. Judgments were going through my mind clouding what I was listening to. Now aware of that, I started to ask to be shown what those judgments were all about. I soon learned when I was growing up I was conditioned to see ‘looking good’ was more important than ‘sounding good.’
The second area I was blocked in had to do with what I was ‘listening to on the inside of myself.’ This showed up through a Toastmaster’s meeting. At one of our meetings, I was Grammarian. One of the tasks of the role as grammarian is to look for filler words like ah, eh, um, etc. Another task has to do with picking out examples of excellent use of language when speaking. As the meeting moved along I found myself becoming distracted. I found I wasn’t capturing all the filler words. I noticed myself getting stuck in the fear of not knowing what I can or can’t…should or shouldn’t say. Not only that, I didn’t feel comfortable that I could express those words favorably. When it got to my turn to speak in the meeting, I quickly presented what I observed in my assessment and sat down.
After that meeting, I was very aware something didn’t feel right inside. I asked myself the question, ‘what was I looking for and what was blocking me from listening?’ I knew I had to listen for filler words and to listen for examples of excellent usage of language. Where I got hung up had to do with how to express those things favorably and in an uplifting way. The awareness of being distracted led me to the place of finding the unrest inside.
When you think of your own listening skills are you noticing there are moments you may not hear everything spoken both inside and outside of you? You may find you are great at listening to your co-workers…but maybe not so great at listening to the people around you at home. You may find you listen closely when the topic of conversation is something you really enjoy…but maybe you ‘shut your ears’ at times when the conversation is about something that upsets you. If you aren’t listening when hearing something upsetting, are you noticing what you may be saying to yourself on the inside?
Here are two areas to consider when it comes to being more attentive when listening:
- Listening on the outside of you – listening plays a huge part in observing what is spoken or not spoken by others after you are done speaking! In other words if you are listening AFTER you speak, you will hear where the person goes with what you said. If the person starts to talk about something totally unrelated what are you noticing in that? What are they not hearing in what you said? If you ask someone to do something and they go do something else what are you observing? Your observations after you speak will make a huge difference in your ‘listening’ regardless of what happens.
- Listening on the inside of you – a clear sign there is a block in listening is when you get lost in a conversation and don’t remember what was just said! One factor relating to this has to do with ‘what you are listening to on the inside of yourself.’ Are you distracted? Could you be getting lost in your judgments or conditioning? For example, to get lost in your judgments could have to do with being critical around how something is worded. To get lost in conditioning may have to do with not waiting for people to finish speaking. You may cut them off because you experienced that kind of behavior growing up.
One of the graces with everyday life is we learn so much through our experiences. Becoming aware is important. Listening both inside and outside of you will be a guide for you to hear what you are saying and if what you are saying is received by the listener at the time.
May you find what works for you…find your own truth…and you will always be guided to feel at peace inside.
I will be at the University in India from November 18 to December 20th this year. I wish you so much wonderment heading into the Christmas Season. May you experience much joy as you journey into the New Year!
Sheila Unique, The Relationship Coach