Ask yourself these questions:
Am I listening to hear?
Am I listening to speak?
Ask yourself also...
What would it sound like if my thoughts were being broadcast while I am listening to someone?
Would the sound be:
Low background noise?
There are a million individual and circumstantial reasons why we are not intentionally listening. Often when we listen we are distracted and focused on how we will answer. Or what the other person says triggers a memory, a thought and suddenly we are thinking about our own experiences. Or sometimes we are just stressed and worrying about our own concerns. Our mind is really loud making it almost impossible to quietly listen with the intention to really hear what our friend, partner, client, or co-worker is saying.
My guess is that most of us know what it feels like to not be heard. We can all think of conversations we have had where we knew the other person was not really listening to us – maybe they kept looking at their phone, their watch, or around the room. Or maybe, if on the phone, we could hear background noise … the sound of the computer clicking or papers rustling. You just knew without a doubt that you weren't really being heard.
How did that feel?
Intentional listening is one of the best ways to show people we value them and value what they have to say. Intentional listening embraces listening on a personal level. It becomes our mindset and we take it to heart as our purpose, our personal mission.
Intentional listening speaks peaceful words of affirmation, respect, and love.
To LISTEN is a verb and it is ideally an active verb. It is a simple skill that we are born with, but like any skill, to be perfected it takes practice. One thing that I learned as a counselor and as a professional life coach is HOW to listen. Along with empathy, I believe it is really one of the main skills that you need to develop to be successful at this job. Imagine sharing with your coach and they continually interrupt you or constantly give you their unsolicited advice and opinions. Or worse, they are on their phone, looking at a book, or gazing into the distance! You probably would find a new life coach!
The same is true in personal and work relationships. When we give others the gift of our full attention, they are empowered! Our intentional listening is both freeing and empowering to the receiver.
Intentional listening grows trust. Trust opens doors to innovation and a sharing of ideas. A sharing of ideas leads to growth and expansion.
People want to be heard. They want to genuinely be listened to. They want to be validated, respected, and valued. Intentional listening does all that and in the process creates a culture of trust.
How do we practice intentional listening?
When we gift someone intentional listening, we are:
Concentrated. We have quieted the "noise" in our minds. We are focused completely on what the other person is saying and also on what they are not saying. When we are totally concentrated we take note of non-verbals too. This helps us to unconditionally hear all that is being said. We are fully in the moment.