Have you ever had the experience of a conversation flowing seamlessly? One that makes you feel like the other person gets you and both of you end up smiling as you lean towards each other. It’s the effect that comes from listening with intention. It can give a feeling of having had one of the best conversations ever.
On the other hand, what about the experience of feeling that you and the other person might as well be speaking in different languages? Both of you don’t seem to be agreeing on anything and as the communication gets progressively worse, each thinks that the other is being stubborn or is totally off their rocker! It leaves you determined to avoid each other even though the other person might be someone you know really well and otherwise like a lot
It happened to me recently. I was catching up with an old friend and we started talking about health and well-being. After a while, I realised that both of us were a bit frustrated with the way the conversation was going. We seemed to be cutting each other off and speaking at the same time. She seemed almost angry with me, and since I care about this friend, I paused to hear what was going on.
I realised that she was talking about mental well-being and how important it was, while I was stressing on the physical bit. And though we both saw each other’s point, we were hell bent on defending our views. It was almost like we were speaking different languages as the image of health in my mind was totally different from hers.
So, I stopped talking and gave her my full attention. I nodded, repeated her words and slowly she started leaning towards me. It’s at this point that she opened to me – when she felt ‘heard’. As I began contributing my thoughts, in no time we both were eagerly nodding at each other’s suggestions and laughing together. At that moment, we regained our rapport and the faith in our relationship.
Think about it – doesn’t this happen when we don’t really ‘listen’ and we hear to reply? Our intention gets communicated at the subconscious level and the other person feels ‘not heard’ or ‘neglected’. Our subconscious is very quick to pick up signals and what is not being said. The moment the attention waivers, the other person notices and the rapport breaks.
People who value relationships know this. You will observe some people put away their phones and lean towards you with the real intention of listening to you. It is these times that you find yourselves opening up.
Have you ever noticed how you feel better after a visit to a good doctor? The difference in treatment is not the medicine, but the undivided and uninterrupted attention the doctor gives you. That is what all of us seek and it is therapeutic.
Thus, the secret to great communication and enriching relationships is fairly simple – to hear with the full intention of listening. Professionally this is one of the best ways to retain clients and gain new ones. On the personal front, you will end up with real conversations and richer experiences while learning a lot about the other person. After all, if a relationship is important, it’s worth your while to invest time into it by truly listening.