One of the biggest challenges in any relationship is that of establishing effective communication. It’s easy to get fired-up about getting our own point across, but it can sometimes be challenging to hear another’s position with equal enthusiasm.
The most important skill we can master in the art of listening is the ability to let go of the need to defend, explain, retaliate or reply. For truly effective communication to occur, we must listen sincerely, and with a deep desire to understand.
This isn’t always easy, especially when the topic at hand is one we have strong feelings about. But when we listen with genuine care and curiosity, some truly magical things start to happen:
1. Arguing stops. Seriously. As soon as we release our positions as oppositional forces, we open the door to cooperation, ease, and understanding.
2. Connections are made. When people feel safe, heard, and understood, we open, expand, and connect.
3. Understanding unfolds. When we listen from a place of genuine caring for another, we tap into our own compassion. Compassion is the birthplace of understanding.
4. Solutions are discovered. Letting go of our default ideas and positions makes room for creative solutions and new perspectives.
5. We learn and grow. Opening to ideas and concepts we may not yet have considered creates space for new possibilities.
SO, HOW DO WE DO IT?
Start by being aware of your own biases, agendas, opinions, and reactions – then temporarily let them go. It is totally safe to do this. Your self-concept will still be there when you are finished listening.
Connect wholeheartedly with the person you are communicating with. Allow yourself to become genuinely curious about what they have to say. Remember that you can consider their perspective without having to adopt it as your own.