Listening is a very powerful skill.
I, as base camp benefit hugely from excellent listening skills as they create intimacy and a shared understanding with my sponsors. And listening ultimately allows for coordinating effective actions that make me fly.
I can finally confess that I can do something very well after having unraveled my struggle with requests.
I am very well trained in it professionally.
I also have the advantage that I love observing and observing is definitely part of listening.
I adore getting a handle on what is going on, I guess it also served me to become a perfect people pleaser.
I listen with my senses. I listen with my ears, my heart, my eyes, my smell and my intuition.
I listen with all of me and the information I gather that way is quite extensive and often unique.
Listening can make or break a relationship and being careless with our listening can have huge negative consequences.
To quote WomenLikeMe;
”Language creates our world and our listening can bring a world into being. This makes sense when we observe closely what happens when we talk, we can literally see how our conversations manifest a world”
(WomenLikeMe on How we Create our World through Conversation)
Now that is powerful and worth paying attention to.
I have had the good fortune to have been a receiver of a great listener and as I am a great listener myself, I can see both sides and have seen different worlds unfold because of quality listening.
I have only been impacted by a great listener once, that is how rare they are.
It was when I was still married and when I never let on how my marriage was not working.
In the beginning I felt like such a failure, after all, I thought I could sort anybody out, especially my husband.
However over time I knew that the marriage was wearing me out and I could not make it work.
In my usual independent way though I thought “if I cannot figure it out, nobody can“, so I never sought help.
Although I let snippets drop here and there in conversations with colleagues and friends about how marriage was a weird thing, nobody listened carefully enough to pick up these clues and run with them. It was also because people actually did not want to hear too much more.
They all had their own problems that they would rather talk about and I was more willing to listen than share anyway. So I never got passed those very subtle hints that all was not well.
With their limited listening they created a world in which all was well for me and I lived into that by never saying it loud and clear that all was terribly wrong.
As a listener THEY had that power in the conversation.
My good fortune happened because my profession required me to have supervision and I ended up with Glenda, who is a master of listening.
She certainly did not skate over my subtle throw away comments about relationships and marriage.
She kept fishing them out of the conversation until she had them well and truly hooked. I knew then that I had finally found a listener.
I so remember my astonishment when I experienced her total presence to me.
Until now I had always been the listener and for once being the one who was listened to with such skill was a new sensation. It was delicious.
I did not feel a failure when finally spilling the beans about my confusion and inability to keep the marriage going.
I did not feel that in the conversation I had to look after her well being as well, she did not ask anything back, she did not judge.
She was totally at ease when I, who always pretended to be this switched on operator, was not as switched on as I had let on to be.
Glenda did not blink an eye lid, she just sat there inviting me to open up more and more.
Until then I had always spoken into the listening of people who wanted to see me as capable and confident and at any little sign of a crack they quickly turned away.
They were not interested; they wanted their pillar to stay a pillar they could talk to.
But not Glenda, Glenda did not need a pillar, for once somebody clearly showed with their listening that they were prepared to be my pillar.
I think that those conversations opened the door for me to finally come clean about my marriage and to give up my failing efforts.
Her listening created intimacy and shared understanding that finally opened me up to her, as well as to myself.
Eventually her listening sponsored me to quit a destructive marriage that was not serving anybody.
That really showed me how listening is such a powerful skill that can achieve great results and yet there is not a lot of listening like Glenda’s around.
We rush and after a few words we think we know what is being talked about and start giving advice. And we assume, we do not even realize that most of the time we do not even want to know.
If we are not careful certain listenings can easily influence us in a way that does not serve us.
Once I had to assess a client who was described by doctors, therapists and case managers as very uncooperative and difficult. In the end nobody knew what to do with him and hated dealing with him. My task to interview him was part of the process to get him off the insurance payments he was on.
Everybody in the office felt sorry for me. I must say I was not thrilled with the assignment either but as a senior it was up to me and saying no was not an option.
He lived rurally and could not drive far in his condition so I had to make a house call as well, yippee.
With dread I rang him, but to my surprise he did not make it difficult to find him, he gave very helpful and accurate directions.
I thought that was strange. When I arrived he was outside waiting for me and his wife offered me a drink. Again I observed behavior that was not in line with the listening of everybody else.
I then did what I always did, I acknowledged his injury and then I asked him to tell his story.
Well, I was glad I asked.
Nobody had ever given him a chance to have his say.
Once he realized the disdainful listening of my fellow professionals for this supposedly uneducated, difficult and uncooperative farm worker who was out to cheat the system, he took great delight in speaking into their listening and giving them hell.
But the information he volunteered and the stories he told me, once he knew he had a different listening, were awesome and for once there was information on his file that he agreed with and could be worked with productively.
This again shows the power is in the hand of the listener.
As base camps we too have a certain listening to people and if we want valuable sponsors it pays to become aware of how we listen to people.
It pays to start noticing how we listen to people we are in a relationship with. It pays to amplify our listening to people who comment on our blogs. It pays to listen carefully period.
Through our observing and listening we create a world of shared understanding. With it we get to really hear if our purposes are aligned and we get to hear the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ to our requests, as clear as a bell.