The real art of listening is akin to listening to a musical piece. It is 100% about the other person – what they are saying, how they say it, the impact of what they say on you, the listener, and the atmosphere between you. It is not linear. It’s not just about listening to their words, but to the music of their words. We listen for the rhythm and sound of the words and to the spaces in between the words. Essentially, we are listening for the emotional charge behind the communication. And like art, we listen to uncover that emotion.
So how well do you listen?
1. Is the person repeating themselves? Chances are they don’t feel heard. Try saying “What I hear you say… [and paraphrase what you heard them say]. ”
2. What does their tone of voice and body language reveal? Get curious about it, especially when it is obviously flat or charged. The trick here is to stay curious – and not judge it outright.
3. What does the atmosphere between you feel like? Acknowledge it! This is listening into the emotional charge. You might say something as simple as “Wow… it feels really heavy right now.”
By listening for the emotion and acknowledging it, the person begins to feel heard — the heart of communicating effectively.