The Importance of Listening

Have you ever tried having a conversation with someone who hasn't mastered the art of listening? Or, maybe their version of listening is closing their lips long enough to give the impression they were listening while clearly formulating the next thought in their head. I know this person well because I used to be this person. If I asked that younger version of me why she had diarrhea of the mouth, if she was being honest, she might say because she found her voice later in life and was exercising the heck out of it, or she might say that she wasn't aware she was doing it or she may have assumed that what she was saying was so fascinating that she couldn't imagine anyone not being interested. Depending on who she was talking to and how inferior they may have made her feel, she may have been overstating her point to try and find some footing. Or, maybe in her mind her words had a currency, and each word counted towards her total value, and if that were the case, she was going to give you your money's worth in this conversation, darn-it!

Don't get me wrong, I love talking with people that have the gift of gab and I'm not picking on good conversationalists because I find good, juicy conversations fascinating, and many times, I come away with something that has provoked me in new and interesting ways. I love that - let's chat it up! What I'm talking about is having the ability to give up the floor and listen - really listen; asking more questions but for the sake of really wanting to unfold the conversation, not just merely being polite.

I grew up in a family that used CB radios while caro-vaning on the road to communicate with family members in other cars, and those conversations were fun. We all had a handle for identification purposes and we, of course, respected the channel we were tuned into. As a little girl, I learned I had to hold the button down to talk, state my handle and call out to the person I was addressing and then state my business. I'd end by saying, "over," and then let go of the button. If I just held down the button, I was still transmitting (talking) and wouldn't be able to receive (listen to) their response. So, I'd let go of the button and give them the floor to respond or comment and when the exchange was done, the last person to talk would say, "Over and Out!" Simple! But something very different can happen when you put a table with plates and wine glasses on it around those same people.

I had an idea to build an app with voice recognition that would gauge the amount of air time each person got during any dinner conversation. As we were paying the check we could look at our conversation distribution pie chart and see - Mrs. Blue spoke 10%, Mr. Brown spoke 20% and Mrs. Red spoke 70%. That might be a really interesting eye opener but not sure how popular that app would be after one test run. (I think men would secretly love the app.)

Hey, and let's be honest, not everyone enjoys talking. They'd actually rather have the other 3 people around the table dominate the conversation because it really doesn't interest them to gab on and on and on. Funny thing is, these people are usually very fascinating when given the chance.

But, the point I'm trying to make is there is something even bigger at play here. I thought about how this type of behavior (either being a good conversationalist or admitting it's something to work on) doesn't just apply to people, it applies to something bigger. Think about how you converse with your higher power. Some people pray, some people use more informal words than prayer or more casual methods than interlacing their hands to say grace, but none-the-less, they still have their list of requests, questions or desires and usually call out the big guns when the you-know-what hits the fan. I've heard it said by many that prayer is talking and mediation is listening - and, aren't both necessary for a really good conversation? Meditation could look like sitting in a zen room while burning sage or it could simply be a quiet walk in the woods.

I've heard a lot of people say that they are asking for guidance on a certain subject but still haven't gotten the answer they're looking for, but what they don't realize is they may still be holding down the CB radio button. I've guided many a client through hypnosis where they have found quite a few answers to very important questions. Is that their intuition giving them the answers? Maybe it's something bigger and more divine? Maybe it's just that wiser and calmer part that lives in each of us that just needed a little space to reply. In fact, this entire blog was concieved during a 30 minute meditation.

During Intuitive Sessions, the person or people I am working with will often experience silence from me because I've asked a question and I'm pausing for an answer. If I'm going to ask the question I have to provide some space for the response. Makes sense, yes?

That is the key point in any of these conversations! If I'm going to ask the question or make the request, I have to provide the silent space and listen. That goes for all conversations, period.

"Hello, Dearest Friend. I'm so excited to hear about what's going on with you now that I've caught you up on my life! Over." (Take finger off the button and listen.)

"Higher Power, I'm really confused about which step I should take next. Can you help me know which way is right? Over." (Take finger off the button. Be still for a while and listen to whatever may come. This will likely be subtle at first.)

Taking baby steps in this direction is huge! Be aware what your conversation app is telling you - or, at least what your gut is telling you, just in case no one makes the app.  If you just had lunch with your friend Jo and your app/gut is saying that 70% of the conversation was owned by you, know if that is up or down from your last lunch with Jo. At least that way you'll know if you are moving in the right direction. Along with that exercise, find maybe 10 more minutes a week to turn off the TV and radio and go sit in a quiet room or under a tree and just be still. Allow your thoughts to sit in a box for 10 minutes and just be aware of little insights that might be peeking through. As you do this, your conversations with your friends will improve as well as your connection to that bigger and more powerful source.

Enjoy the process of becoming a better listener and all the benefits that will come with it. 

Dawn Marie. © Copyright, 2015, The Zen Room