Recently I was having a heated conversation with a close friend of mine. She was giving me work related feedback and I wasn’t being particularly receptive. Ironically, the feedback was related to a listening exercise that I was testing and I wanted to tell her that no, she just wasn’t doing it right. I felt triggered and defensive while trying to pretend that I wasn’t.
Tension began building in my body, which is always a red flag reminder for me to give a situation some space. I realized that although I had a different experience of the exercise than she did, I didn’t understand her experience of the exercise. I was closed off to learning how the exercise could be better because I was too busy defending my own experience. As soon as I let my guard down and endeavored to earnestly understand her position, our entire conversation shifted. I was willing to be changed and, in fact, I was. The result was a restructuring of the listening exercise for the better.
When Guru Nanak, founder of Sikh Dharma, came out of samadhi, he spoke 36 stanzas of which four were about listening. Each stanza concludes with: “Deeply listening, sorrows and errors depart”. The implication is that when we listen deeply enough we cultivate an understanding of all things based on the interrelatedness of life – thus all sorrows and errors depart.
There is a tremendous power to listening that is often under appreciated. In my own experience, learning to listen has transformed my relationship with myself and every person in my life. It continues to be one of the most rewarding and challenging practices in my life.
Today’s video explores the mechanics of listening and offers specific techniques to improve listening capacities.