Listening — A Long Lost Art

Sometimes all we need is to truly be heard

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This is one of the things Steven Covey writes about empathic listening in his top-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

We’re wired to help. We want to be there; to give our input and advice to assist those in need, especially loved ones. But, sometimes what people really need is someone to actually listen. They need to be heard.

Listening has become a lost art.

These days we can’t get things fast enough. Gone are the days of waiting for pictures, mail, news, results…we want things now; the quicker the better. In a world that is on a continual quest for all things instantaneous we tend to frown at anything that takes time. Well, empathic listening takes time. It requires the ability to let go of yourself — your ego, your thoughts, your to-do lists — and bring yourself completely present to fully hear and understand another human being.

Think about it…how often do you really take the time to truly hear what the person speaking to you is saying? Beyond the words into the feeling — excitement, pain, hurt, fear, anticipation, love — that is there. Seeking to understand their point of view, their perspective, even when you don’t agree; especially when you don’t agree. Hearing them not to defend yourself or prove a point…not to get the conversation over or to come out looking good, but to purely know and understand them better.

“Listening involves patience, openness, and the desire to understand — highly developed qualities of character. It’s so much easier to operate from a low emotional level and to give high-level advice. “ ~Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Great listening starts with the ability to approach a conversation thinking the other person’s perspective is absolutely right based on their thoughts, conditioning and unique view of the world; and setting the intention to view the discussion through their ‘eyes.’ A lesson in practicing neutrality and really feeling the other person while they are talking.

“When you listen with empathy to another person, you give that person psychological air. And after that vital need is met, you can then focus on influencing or problem solving.” ~ Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Learning the art of empathic listening can have a significant impact on every relationship in your life.

Image how different your conversations would be if you were a master listener. Image how different the world could be if we all became highly proficient at listening.

Mastering the art of listening is your opportunity to nonverbally say to another “I see you. I hear you. And what you say matters.” ~Oprah Winfrey

Sometimes what we really need is to be heard.
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