(c) 2009 – 2015
Hi there! It feels great to be writing another post as the blog is now settling into a rhythm. Today, I have coworkers, clients, and friends to thank for helping me grow as a person simply by helping me come to understand the art of listening. For me, a typical day of work involves seeing anywhere from 5-10 clients who are making important changes in their lives. Whether I’m conducting live personal hypnosis sessions or simply coaching clients in setting and achieving goals, it is crucial to be an active listener. My job is not to solve problems for anyone, but to facilitate growth by helping clients draw their own conclusions — the conclusions that are best for him/her and that best fit his/her lifestyle. If you are still reading, you are probably wondering: How can I be a better listener?
1. Availability. Reliable friends, successful coaches and therapists, and effective leaders have all figured out the importance of being there when they are needed the most. Of course, this doesn’t mean leaving your schedule open for every subtle whimper. Being available does not mean you should open yourself up to being someone else’s doormat; but, reaching out to someone in need by simply checking in once in awhile shows how much you care.
2. Non-Attachment. Without getting emotionally wrapped up in someone else’s story, a great listener is able to stay focused on his/her own journey following even a deeply moving — or potentially draining — interaction. Great listeners understand how to create balance between sharing emotions while maintaining his/her own direction. In other words — don’t make someone else’s situation so important that you neglect your own personal responsibilities. I spoke with a client today who has found that, in cultivating a mindful approach to listening, she was able to walk away from a negative interaction without taking any negativity as she went on to attend her scheduled yoga class that evening. “What I’ve learned through this,” she explained, “is that I don’t have to let another person’s negative attitude influence my own state of well-being, that what’s theirs is theirs, not mine.”
3. Succinct Suggestions, Relevant Opinions, Great Questions. Only offer advice if it is asked of you, and keep it brief. No one has the right suggestion for someone else’s situation; advice is subjective. And it’s great to be honest, but keeping your opinions to a minimum helps keep the focus on the person’s situation. Asking thought-provoking questions rather than offering solutions is often the best way to keep the focus on the person and their unique situation.
4. Dare to Not Compare (Your Life to Theirs). Honor your integrity by sharing an outside perspective, but also honor the uniqueness of the other person’s position. Rather than comparing your own personal experiences to theirs, make them feel that their situation is special when the news is great, and help them understand that they are not alone by sharing others’ stories (not yours) when the news is not-so-great.
5. Being Trustworthy. Confidentiality is very important to someone who discloses personal information to you, so keeping it between the two of you is paramount in being a great listener. If you choose to open yourself to someone and it compromises the integrity of your relationship with another person, suggest they open up to someone else, or commit to keeping the conversation between the two of you. As we mature, it comes without question to keep another person’s personal matters private.
These are my own suggestions, and certainly not the only ones floating around. If you have your own tips for being a great listener, please share them in a comment below! Thanks for reading : )