The art of heartfelt listening – really listening – to what others are saying is a very important aspect of successful interpersonal communication.
Heartfelt listening is an integral part of the process called attending. Like any other form of creative endeavour, the more you practice listening, the more proficient you will become. Pure attention is a state of calm relaxation: a holiday taken by the real you, away from the distractions of your day-to- day anxieties and outdated internal conflicts. Don’t worry if at first you find it hard to completely free your mind of all the background noises – just become aware of what’s going on and then make a conscious decision not to get attached to it. You’ve heard the expression ‘a train of thought’? Well, you don’t need to get on board – if you do, you’ll get carried away from what’s really happening. Watch it go by, and keep your focus on the true significance of what you’re listening to at the present moment.
When you really attend to another human being, your true, authentic self will stop becoming side-tracked by the static that’s racketing around in your head – the ‘unfinished business’ from the past, the Babel of unresolved stuff stored up in your cranial hard-drive. It’s only then that you’ll achieve the freedom to detach yourself from this constant internal dialogue and focus a powerful beam of pure awareness on the outside world – in this case, on what the person you’re attending to is saying.
As you develop this fundamental interpersonal skill, you’ll realise that listening is a form of meditation. In learning to really pay attention, you’ll become increasingly aware that what the other person chooses to tell you is not always relevant to what is presently being discussed – that there’s a hidden, contradictory element involved. Watch out for these ‘double messages’; your intuitive reaction will never let you down.
Once you trust your gut response to the words you hear in your day-to-day life you’ll begin to understand the heart-felt meaning hidden behind them.
Charles Bentley PhD
Founder, Unitive® Coaching
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