This week, I've been thinking a great deal about listening, and why being a successful listener is a critical piece of finding harmony in life.
As a coach, I use Level 3 and Level 4 listening when I work with clients, and I also find myself employing those skills when I'm having deep conversations in my personal life. Level 3 listening is listening beyond the words that a person is saying (listening beyond the information) for other clues - such as body language, tone, volume, emotion, expression, etc. - that fill the information with actual meaning. For example, if you ask a person how she's doing, and the words she uses are "I'm fine," but you observe that her shoulders are hunched, head is hanging, volume is quiet and voice is raspy with emotion, you'd be able to see that she is experiencing more than "fine."
On the other hand, Level 4 listening considers the system of which the person with whom you are speaking is a part. For example, listening for context clues about work, recent experiences, relationships, etc. can provide a greater sense of the landscape that is more likely than not giving rise, in part, to the meaning of what someone is saying.
But keen listening skills are not merely important for interactions with others; they are crucial for self-understanding. Learning to listen to our hearts and our bodies in addition to our minds (to which we typically give the most attention) can help us to navigate various situations and experiences from a place of authenticity, which makes all the difference in terms of how we feel before, during and after. You know that feeling when something just isn't right - or on the flip side, when it's perfect? In those moments, if we actually take time to turn inward, to notice the clues our bodies and our emotions are telling us, we can learn quite a bit about whether we are acting in accordance with our values. It's really fascinating - and helpful - stuff!
This is all just the tip of an iceberg, and of course, I'm always here to explore these topics more deeply.
First published in The Spark on 11/16/2017.