“Being listened to is so close to being loved, that most people can’t tell the difference.” – David Augsberger, Psychotherapist.
Deep listening is the first step towards understanding. Deep listening to the other does not mean agreement, nor does it mean disagreement. Listening values the other’s story and when it is reciprocated it can create an environment of mutual understanding.
Deep listening is a practice and it needs to be practiced. Resist the natural tendency to become caught in your own thoughts and how you want to respond when the person stops talking. As you listen, consider the other’s emotions, thoughts and feelings. Notice the tone of the other’s voice, pauses, and what is emphasized in the story.
As you engage in deep listening consider these best practices.
- Listen following the 80/20 Rule: Listen 80 percent of the time and talk 20 percent of the time. This rule allows for authentic sharing, exploration and action taking by the one being listened to.
- Listen reflectively: Listen to understand the other’s point, then offer their point back to him or her to confirm you have understood them correctly.
- Listen with empathy: React appropriately to the joy or concern that is being shared. This might include statements like “What a blessing! I am excited for you.” or “It must be difficult. I understand your concern.”
- Listen for underlying meaning: Ask yourself, “Is this what the person means to say, or is there something more behind this statement?” At times, consider using a clarifying statement or question such as “That is interesting. Can you share with me more about that?”
Take comfort. The goal of deep listening is not to solve a problem, but to create a space for the other to be heard.