Listening, a skill and a practice

Being heard is something that we all want and need, it honors us as individuals, it shows caring, and it provides validation.

If being heard is so helpful, why do we find it so hard to pause and listen?

Are you often not really listening to your friend, partner, or child, but instead thinking of your response before they finish speaking?

Did it feel like the last time you tried to share something, the person didn't really hear you, instead they immediately responded with ways to "fix" whatever it was you were sharing about?

How do we shift this paradigm? Obviously, listening is something we do with another, so it is easy to look outside ourselves, yet can we? I suggest that if we want to be heard, learning to listen is an important place to start.

Listening takes intent, it requires that you pay attention and is best when you take a moment after someone has spoken to reflect or repeat back to them what you just heard.

That's often the tricky spot - instead of jumping in with your own story (wanting to be heard) a good listener pauses and reflects back. When you show someone that you have heard them, you are demonstrating their value to you, you are showing your interest, you are connecting with them.

Consider the opposite, you have just shared a frustrating experience with a friend, you really just needed to vent and get it off your chest. Your friend responds with a litany of suggestions about how you could fix the situation, or have done it differently. What happened? You don't feel better all of a sudden do you? The energy shifted, the friend who was equal to you just stepped into expert/knows better mode. They stepped up, you end up down, the energetics are no longer balanced; it doesn't feel good.

Of course, there are times when some advice is helpful. I would like to suggest however, that it is far less often than we think. Advice, solutions, and ideas are best given when requested, after reflecting back what another has said. Keep the energetics even and simply listen to the important people in your world, see what happens.

The places I am actively practicing this are with my wife and daughter. Our marriage is much better when we can stop and hear each other instead of jumping immediately to a response. Yes, lots of great Imago Couples Therapy has facilitated that growth. With Sarah, my 12 year-old daughter, listening is becoming even more important as our time together is somewhat shorter these days. When she is open and sharing, I want to both soak in and reflect all that is coming from her. Mom having an idea or an opinion, yes there are times for that. Mom simply loving and appreciating her - that is the best of what I can give Sarah.

During Thrive and Full Body Presence Workshops we work with listening while building our group dynamics as well as bringing awareness to the energetics of different situations. I look forward to sharing that experience with you at our next workshop, or talking more about your experience with listening and being heard during your next session.

©2006-2017 Alchemy Healing Arts Center, LLC - All Rights Reserved, Amelia Mitchell, LMT, All Rights Reserved, Please do not copy or reproduce this article.

About the Author

Amelia Mitchell, LMT is a nationally certified and state licensed massage therapist with additional certifications in Lymphedema treatment and Pre-Natal massage. Using Therapeutic Massage and Lymph Drainage Therapy as developed by Bruno Chikly MD, DO of the Upledger Institute, Amelia supports her clients as they shift to enhanced wellness. She specializes in recovery from injuries, trauma and illness. Amelia brings her warm heart and a firm trust that we are all healthy and can feel better to each session. Amelia is a practitioner and owner at Alchemy Healing Arts Center in Annapolis, Maryland.