What we listen for matters. Listening is a very complex art form that takes at least several life times to master. It is also very different for all people, based on their life experience and world view. In an earlier article I have written about listening till you no longer exist. Being in a place of listening that transcends the “I”. Listening till I no longer exist is a portal to really being able to hear the other for the other.
However, even within the frame of listening till I no longer exist, we all have different listening for’s.
In this article we will discuss some of what we can listen for, highlighting active listening skills. We will discuss why this is so important, especially in conscious communication.
We have all had experiences where we have been with friends and colleagues listening to a speaker and we all heard a different message. Often this divergent listening experience creates conflict and misunderstanding from the small to the major in scale.
Recognition of our differences in listening is a vital aspect of our own development.
What we listen for is inseparable from who we are, and how we see the world, therefore there are some really great clues about what certain people will listen for.
Someone who is very much into detail..will listen for detail, or lack of detail.
Someone who is into process, will listen for process, or absence of process.
Someone who operates from high level context, big picture, will listen for big picture context.
Someone who believes people of certain colour, race or religion have “X” behaviours, or values, will listen for ‘X” behaviours or values.
People will be listening for their own archetypal patterns in others. We do this because we want to find our tribe. People we resonate with. An athlete will listen for an athlete, an artist will listen for the artist in another.
In other words, we listen for what matches or is divergent to our world view. We want confirmation, acknowledgment, and to create agreement in our listening. And we are always listening for our tribe.
This multifaceted way of listening highlights the importance of developing ourselves to the highest level possible, so we can have multiple views. To be very skilled in the art of listening requires that we can not only listen until we no longer exist, but that we can also listen from a place that is not within our world view.
Am I able to listen to someone who believes that all people have a right to bare arms if I am a proponent for gun control? Listening for and to, does not equal agreement. It does however, allow the presencing of divergent views.
How we do this kind of listening that transcends world views is to create a focus to listen as part of our practice and be willing to give up our world view, our need for affirmation, our need to create agreement, our need to be right, or liked….as part of our listening. This kind of listening is an integral part of the conversation for understanding. To listen for the others soul expression is one of the highest forms of human acknowledgment we can bestow on another. We do not have to agree with their world view, but we can really hear their view and be willing to understand it. We must practice listening exercises if we want extraordinary relationships.
Lets look at a few examples.
My innate tendency is to listen for energy flow…not words. I tune into the energy of the words. Is there alignment, resonance, flow? I have a very finely tuned sensitivity to disruptions in the energy behind words. I have honed this skill without needing visual queue’s because I often work with people on the phone, and so I have trained myself to hear the energy, and the spaces between words, and what is not being said, more than the content of the conversation.
I am also scanning for integrity…aligned and misaligned. If someone says something and it strikes me as out of integrity, or slightly off, either off around integrity or around the energy, I register this.
I am also listening for the larger archetypal contextual patterns. This requires a kind of multidimensional listening that goes way beyond the five senses. To do this kind of listening we need to have a very high antenna frequency that maps and pays attention to incoming signals from multiple domains.
However, the down side to this kind of listening is that I often don’t hear detail. I miss hearing all the content about x and y. I have to work very hard to listen to content, particularly if there is lots of it. If the person is speaking from above the neck, (from the head only, no emotion, just words and data) and has not engaged their head and heart in their speaking, and there is no energy flow or movement, I find myself drifting, and have to find a focus point to listen to.
I have to consciously practice active listening skills. To do this I ask a question..for example..what are they really trying to say here? What do they need from me? Is something else going on? Are they trying to avoid getting to the point because they have emotion discomfort? I have to discipline myself to scan for what is going on.
Sometimes what is going on is lack of discipline around words, or lack of awareness of the other persons experience, or lack of clarity, avoidance, or egocentrism. Or, maybe they are communicating very important data, and I really need to listen. Instructions would fit into this category. I need to generate a want to listen….to hear detail data. Listening for a person’s name is a good example of this. I am often scanning for all sorts of other clues to this person and their character and miss the detail of their name.
However, someone else is going to be very skilled in listening for data.
Practicing listening for different tones/emotions/worldviews is essential training for any leader and conscious communicator. Listening is a foundation exercise of all steward leaders.
We can listen for….
energy, flow, congruence, emotion, alignment, data, misalignment, fear, upset, confusion, truth, integrity, clarity, resonance, understanding, doubt, frustration, anger, passion, stalling, what is behind the words, what is not being said, what is the elephant in the conversation, what needs to be said, pain, peace, quiet, stillness, presence, agitation…..