I recently had two extended phone conversations in which I hardly spoke (out of choice) and in which the other party had an opportunity to thoroughly air their feelings and issues. While on the phone, I didn’t text, sort through my e-mail, read anything, nor do anything at all. But listen.
One of the persons was a brand new acquaintance. And I hadn’t talked with the other person in more than two years. Yet each spoke from their hearts about their concerns.
These days genuine listening – from the heart – is in short supply. Often before I can complete two sentences, the other person with whom I’m conversing either blurts out words of advice (unsolicited) or compares what I am saying with her or his situation. I discern that the other party wasn’t really listening in the first place; rather she was waiting for the right moment to pounce, that is, to get her two cents in. Or, they get distracted by a text or phone call.
Try this: the next time you find yourself in a conversation, just listen. Forget comparing what you heard with something you experienced. Don’t try to fix the other person’s situation. Nor blurt out some meaningless statement like: “I’m sure things will work out.” Or, “The same thing happened to me.”
Stay on their wave-length. Be conscious of the other person’s tone as well as the content of what they’re saying.
See what happens. How did you feel? Did a deeper connection with the other person emerge? While you may not receive any acknowledgement, you have indeed given the other person the gift of listening.