Friday, 23 October 2015

Why Authentic Listening Needs Your Heart

The Chinese symbol for listening tells us a very interesting story.

According to it, you can only be genuinely listening if you deploy your ears, your eyes, your undivided attention and your heart.  Your heart? 

We are often told to listen TO our hearts - but are we ever told to listen WITH our hearts? Somehow it does not seem to make as much sense and yet, the more I think about it the more the need to deploy my heart while listening to somebody or something becomes clear:

When we listen with our hearts we listen not just for words but for feelings and emotions. This means that we actually attempt to appreciate what is inferred, unspoken yet felt by others. When we do that we are more likely to comprehend the totality of the message that is being put across by the speaker rather than simply accept what appears to be the facade or what is shown externally.

When we listen with our hearts we are more likely to feel a natural empathy for the speaker. We may not agree with what is being said but by appealing to our hearts we almost always attempt to put ourselves in the other person's shoes. Empathy is at the basis of all communication and without it we are unlikely to be able to engage others in the conversation.

When we listen with our hearts we will almost certainly use our senses - and particularly our eyes - to find confirmation for our feelings about what is being said. Do our eyes also tell us the speaker is genuine, happy, sad, excited or perhaps annoyed or even angry? How we perceive the speaker's body  language through our eyes will become a powerful proof that what our heart has been feeling is true, or that there are discrepancies. In any case it will help us with understanding what is being said to a deeper level.

To be leader at what ever we do we need to be first and foremost good listeners. If we want to engage the heart and minds of our people we need to demonstrate that we too can deploy our heart to listen for meaning beyond the spoken words. This naturally lead us to understand better and more sympathetically, which in turn will enable us to ask better and more insightful questions.

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.

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