Listening is a skill everyone likes to talk about but very few actually know how to enact. It’s more challenging than we might think to really shut our mouths and pay attention without constantly interrupting or adding our two cents.
In my last blog, I talked about offering an empty presence and letting the person finish their story. Here, I cover other important listening skills. We should all make the effort to speak less and hear more.
Become a Truly Great Listener
Listen for Their Heart
Listen for the feelings behind the words. Can you hear voice fluctuations? Can you read their eyes? Feelings of regret, fear, grief, hope, etc.
Using the balloon symbolism, I picture a red balloon filling with their emotions as I listen for feelings. There is no higher form of communication than heartfelt, empathetic listening. The balloon symbolism may feel silly, but it will help.
You cannot be heard until the patient’s emotional bubble is deflated through your quiet confidence and empathetic understanding.
Ask Permission to Go Forward
When you ask for and receive permission to offer advice, you are much more likely to be heard. This is truly one of the most intuitive questions you can ever ask and does wonders for building rapport: “May I give you some initial thoughts?” or “May I have permission to consider what you have told me and study possible solutions?”
Once a person has given you permission, they are more likely to become a partner in solutions.
There is no greater gift of healing, expression of love and builder of self-esteem we can offer those special people we care about most, including our family, friends, patients, co-workers, and community, than listening. Everyone wants to be heard.
How do you practice listening skills? Let us know in the comments section below!