LISTENING FOR FEELINGS & NEEDS—WHAT’S ALIVE IN THE OTHER PERSON?

 

Tucker:  Looking back I see that if I had listened better, I could have avoided a fight with my father.  Last holiday, I talked about getting a job, but deep down I thought I deserved a break for completing a successful semester at school.  I was content with hanging around the house or with friends, going to the gym, taking a midday nap.  My father started making snippy remarks, “I see you did nothing today,” but I just assumed he was in a funk. 

 

I finally sat down and thought about his perspective.  He gets up at 4:00 a.m. to work out before going to work to lead his company and deal with employees and problems.  When he returns home worn out, he finds me asleep and the house a wreck.  When I guessed his viewpoint, I was glad to do dishes, clean the living room and generally help out after my workout at the gym.  I do care about my father and want to make him feel better. 

 

We will take apart the natural sequence of listening and talking, in order to focus on listening. 

 

Mindful listening starts in your head.  Let’s consider what is going on in your head first—the first three tips.  Then we will come back and consider what your mouth is doing—the next three tips.  The last three tips relate to particularly challenging situations.  

 

 

TIPS FOR MINDFUL LISTENING

 

      1.  Make a decision to get present to the conversation

      2.  Try to understand the context of their story—their observations

      3.  Listen for their feelings and needs—expressed or unexpressed

      4.  Make frequent reflections of what you are hearing

      5.  Use respectful interruption, as needed

      6.  Make room for silence

      7.  Be patient with the person who does not want to talk

      8.  Be flexible about using reflections

      9.  When you notice tension, deliberately slow down, breathe, and listen

 

 

Now, what is happening in my head while I am listening?

 

 

1.  Make a decision to get present to the conversation

 

Doma:  Good listening does not mean shaking your head and saying “yah” every moment.  It is hearing with the ears, the eyes and the mind.  When I am thinking about family and stuff going on in me, at that moment my spirit of listening is not with me. 

 

Amber:  Just the other day I was talking with a friend of mine when I hear my phone ringing in my bag.  Usually I would get it, but this time I simply let it ring.  I remembered that even looking at who was calling would have been distracting to my friend.  I wanted the person to know that listening to them was important to me.